This guest post is provided courtesy of my husband Peter, a social studies/math teacher at a charter high school in Central California. He is in his 18th year of teaching in both public and private schools in Texas, Arizona, and California; he is also in his third official year of homeschooling. He is a lifelong Catholic, and a talented mineral collector and family historian/genealogist.
Today is our annual, mid-year full day of faculty meetings, and the first two hours consisted of a presentation called “Teach Like A Champion” by some so-called “teacher coach” who works in the teacher prep program at [the local state university].
First, she talked to us as if we were elementary school teachers or even, at some points, elementary school students. In trying to illustrate how alternative pedagogical methods could be devised, she forced our biology teacher to come to the front of the room and sing a rap song about cell division. She put forth the usual, worn-out mantras from the 1980’s and 1990’s about how students should be teaching each other in the classroom, though apparently “cooperative learning” as a term has given way to “learning clubs” (I had never heard this term before, but apparently it refers to groups of three or four students who teach each other during class).
At a few points, she took very direct and pronounced jabs and Catholic schooling and at Catholic educational philosophy, mocking the supernatural dimension of it quite openly, though her biggest complaint about it seemed to be that the Catholic school teachers she had when growing up were not all state-credentialed (yeah, the credential makes the teacher . . .).
The kicker came later, though, when she was trying to teach us how to “celebrate” right answers in the classroom, suggesting that we make a tradition out of yelling things such as “Yippee!” when a student does something well (yes, she used that as an example).
Finally, she told us that we should celebrate ourselves as teachers, and so she passed out cheap party streamers to all of the faculty and asked us all to blow into them. I, like about half of my colleagues, gave her the “This is so stupid” look and declined to do so. The sad part is that our teacher prep programs at the university or district levels have lots and lots of people like her working in them.