Mr. Parello Sensei

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Oct 31 2013

I Quit Teach for America Too

About a month ago, a former TFA corps member named Olivia Blanchard published this superb recounting of her time in the corps in The Atlantic.  Absolutely everything in the article resonated with me, and much of what she says I wish I had written myself in my first Teach for Us post .  And as is the…

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  To most readers of the blogs on the Teach for Us website, Gary Rubinstein is best known for his critiques of Teach for America’s training model and ed reformers’ miracle school claims.  It was his posts on education reform that originally inspired me to start my own blog here.  As an author on education,…

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I’ve never put too much stock in the idea that TFA recruits and young charter school teachers enter education for the resume padding; I think the job simply requires too much commitment and passion for a resume boost to be the primary motivator.  Everyone that I know who went into TFA or who worked for…

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This past weekend I was going through all of my old teaching documents, looking for anything that could help me as I get ready to start the new school year. During my organization effort, I came across a packet of Teach for America Los Angeles prep materials from 2007  for our placement interviews at LA…

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Diane Ravitch is one of my favorite authors and thinkers on education.   In “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” she weaves rock-solid case against No Child Left Behind and the test-based accountability movement.  Unfortunately, the wisdom of her ideas are often drowned out by those who are more adept at…

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With the early end of the 2012-2013 school year at my old school, I’ve had an extra long period this summer without work. I decided to use my time (and savings) to pay a visit to my old schools in Japan, and spend a couple of weeks visiting friends in the cities of Osaka, Kobe,…

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Blogger Owen Davis recently wrote a piece on Teach for America alumni resistance, and in his piece included the voice of a New Orleans public school student reacting to the influx of Teach for America teachers to her district. After pointing out that nearly half of New Orleans’ teachers were in their first three years…

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Jul 25 2013

Where TFA Succeeds and Where it Fails

Recently, on Twitter, TFA’s new co-CEO Matt Kramer posted an article called “Why Are We Burning Teach For America at the Stake?” written by alum Lauren Boyle. Lauren is rare among TFA alums for having participated both in a traditional credentialing program and in TFA’s training, so she has perspectives into both. The article caught…

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Jun 22 2013

Stay More Than Two Years

For my last couple of posts, I’ve been posting about my recent hiring at a private school.  I found it instructive to look at some of the ways it sold itself to parents, namely by the fact that it kept class sizes small and did not overtest, and to contrast those things with what the…

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For the past several years, two of the more common claims from the ed reform community are that class size is unimportant to student achievement and that test scores provide an effective way of evaluating teachers and schools.   Interviewing for my new job at a French/English bilingual school, I was struck by how much…

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Jun 17 2013

A New Direction

On June 1st I was hired to a new job at a bilingual French/English private school as a third grade teacher.  Although I was happy at the charter school where I was working and proud of the work that I did this past school year, the fact that I was only a long term sub…

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May 29 2013

Fail First, Then Get It Correct

I finished up my role as a collaboration teacher at my school today, and gave my final Japanese and French lessons to two different classes.  As a final presentation to the students, I showed them some of the calligraphy that I made while I was studying it in Japan.  I have a few works I…

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May 10 2013

Some Unintended Conclusions from Value Added Data

There has been a lot of debate for the past several years over whether or not to use “value added” data as a metric for evaluating teachers.  Washington D.C. is already making 50% of a teacher’s evaluation dependent on their value added rating.  I thought I’d weigh in on the debate, as I happen to…

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May 05 2013

Class Size in Japan, Korea, and America

I freely admit that I don’t understand how to run a multi billion dollar software company.  I’m still intrigued, therefore, that Bill Gates continues to believe that he is qualified to make education policy. In today’s New York Times, Sara Mosle discusses a plan from Gates, along with Michael Bloomberg and Arne Duncan, that would…

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Apr 29 2013

The Diverse Views of Corps Members and Alums

During my interview for Teach for America in the spring of 2007, the interviewer asked me to explain what I felt was the cause of the achievement gap.  I replied that I thought schools serving primarily low income and minority students were educating children who faced severe challenges in their lives due to poverty, and…

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Apr 26 2013

Reverse Culture Shock

My early days in Japan with the JET Program were full of cultural misunderstandings.  I brought with me a lot of assumptions about how schools should work and how students should learn that simply did not mesh with the Japanese teachers’ views.  I had to unlearn a lot of things and be willing to understand…

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Teachers, like any other profession, should be evaluated and held accountable for their job performance.  I don’t honestly know anyone who doesn’t believe this.  If you listen to many of the ed reformers though, you’d think otherwise.  I found this rather bizarre tweet from a StudentsFirst blogger in my Twitter feed today, retweeted by StudentsFirst…

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Apr 22 2013

Teaching Foreign Language: A Good Cure for Cynicism

This month I’ve gotten the rare chance to spend Sunday evenings without planning or preparation.  After finishing my second long term substituting assignment at my school in March, I become a collaboration teacher and day to day sub wherever I’m needed.  On collaboration days (Tuesday and Thursday) I teach World Languages and Culture to students…

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Apr 19 2013

Adoring Ed Reform Journalists

It’s been an interesting week in education news.  Michelle Rhee is taking heat for her failure to acknowledge a memo regarding cheating in her district, and Ben Chavis’s American Indian Public Charter School had its charter revoked by the Oakland Unified School District because of Chavis’s money embezzlement.  It comes to my mind that so…

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Teach for America is coming to my hometown.  Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, they will be bringing in a small group of about 30 corps members to test the waters and see if they can develop a good working presence in San Diego.  I was initially wary when I learned the news. San Diego…

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Apr 15 2013

My Education Career: Discouragement and Optimism

The 2012-2013 school year has been a blur; with only forty days left, it still feels like I’ve barely gotten into it.  I’ve spent the entire year in a substitute role at my charter school, and I’m eager- or maybe desperate- to find a job as a full time teacher, hopefully at the same school. …

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Jan 29 2013

Mediocre Teaching from the Students’ Perspective

Most new teachers, at some point in their training, get a chance to watch skilled teachers teach.  Although providing few opportunities during institute itself, TFA does mandate that its inductees log a certain number of hours of classroom observation.  Once I switched from TFA to a traditional credentialing program, observing the master teacher prior to…

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Jan 07 2013

The Primacy of Classroom Management

In August of last year I returned to California from Japan after completing two years on the JET Program.  The transition was anything but easy.  First, I returned to the same moribund economy that had caused me to take my job in Japan in the first place.  As September approached and I had already sent…

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Jul 04 2012

Choosing to Succeed

Teach for America loves to sugarcoat the first year.  Rather than a realistic portrayal of the challenges that face new corps members, TFA has consistently opted for positive propaganda over reality.  Since reading the blog posts of new corps members entering the corps this year, it has become clear to me that this hasn’t yet…

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Jul 02 2012

Five Years Later: Revisiting Ms. Lora’s Story

Five years ago was the beginning of my strange teaching career that started at the Los Angeles TFA institute and has brought me here to Kobe, Japan.  In that time I’ve read dozens and dozens of books about teaching.  Since starting this blog though, I developed a keen interest in revisiting one of the first…

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