Friday, December 7, 2007

Kudos to Robert Pondiscio

Robert Pondiscio enriches this site with the time and care he takes to comment - so check out his article, "Mr. P Learns His Lesson," in this week's Business Week. Congrats on the new job, Robert!

1 comment:

ed notes online said...

I also want to congratulate Robert on his new mission. I had a few of my students go to a Prep for Prep like program - one to a private school in Rhode Island and then on to a 6 year med program at Johns Hopkins. She was the sharpest kid I ever had, seemingly interested in everything, and at times, even in the top class she was in, I felt I was only talking to her.

But of course that was so rare. I found the opposite from Robert - that the brightest low-income kids were catered to and coddled and many teachers worked to get them to the best schools, knowing full well the alternatives to the local middle school. Our district had one special middle school where we all funneled those kids - it still does.

It was so much more likely that kids in my class would end up in prison or dead than in Prep for Prep. But in the 6th grade I often found these kids a delight too with personalities to spare - and years later I would get calls - from prison where there was a whole gang from the neighborhood. I went to visit a few times but that's another story.

It may feel like a losing battle at times but in my 30 years in the classroom, after starting out never intending to teach, I not only have few regrets, but incredible pride in having been a teacher in a tough neighborhood. Did I close the achievement gap? Most likely not. Could I have with best practices? Give me a break. There were lots of teachers in my school who were good. We shared ideas and info and our PD was talking to each other at lunch hour.

I had a lot of freedom to do what I thought was the right thing for the kids. I tried many things from open classroom to the seats in rows. Sometimes I was wrong and sometimes right. You were accountable mostly to the kids and their parents. Admins only cared that you controlled your class.

If there was true accountability at the top I could accept some control over my freedom to teach the way I saw fit. But in today's world, I do not think I could even do 5 years Robert did.