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Letters to a Young Teacher By Jonathan Kozol

Final project for Issues in Secondary Education

Ryan Butler

on 10 December 2012

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Transcript of Letters to a Young Teacher By Jonathan Kozol

Chapter 1: A life Among School Children Kozol writes that school have been politicized and are run by people who do not know much about education
These politicians are forcing proficiency in a business oriented way in our schools
Says the best teachers are not only the "technicians of proficiency", but are the "ministers of innocence"
Teachers must believe that every student in their class has inherent value to learn
Kozol's main point in this chapter is to reinforce that education is controversial, but young teachers must enjoy their first year teaching, because it will be a remarkable experience in the future Introduction This book is a collection of letters Kozol writes to an elementary teacher, who he calls Francesca, in Boston.

Although written to an elementary teacher, the issues and discussions that take place throughout the book apply to all levels of education Chapter 2: Establishing the Chemistry Beginning teachers will realize it takes time to be successful
Time and perseverance will pay off
Must establish trust with your students before you can begin to teach them content
Respect will come from this trust
Kozol instructs the reader to not start with the material or content before mutual trust and respect is established
Students are more willing to learn after these two elements are established Chapter 3: Reaching Out to Get To Know the Parents of Our Children Getting to know the parents of our student's is just as important as getting to know the students

Must have parents trust in you to teach their children just like you must have your students trust for them to learn what you are teaching them

Reach out and make an extra effort to get to know "uncooperative" parents
These parents are sometimes intimidated or weary of the education system and showing them you care will go along way to gaining their trust as a teacher of their child Chapter 4: Teaching the Old, but Learning from the Old Young teachers must remember that teaching is a communal profession
You are not the only one teaching those students in that school
Communicate and listen to what other faculty members have to say
Especially the faculty members that have been there for a number of years
Older members of the faculty will have experiences that you will undoubtedly learn from Ryan Butler Letters To A Young Teacher
By: Jonathan Kozol Chapter 5: Wild Flowers Student's are not predictable and teachers must be aware of this reality
"Minute to Minute Lessons" are crucial for teachers to learn
Being able to keep your classroom functioning by working with what the students are giving you
Teachers must be flexible in their teaching methods
Teachable moments are great in a classroom
Students will sometimes say things that do not necessarily relate to your lesson, but if it is a noteworthy point, there is no reason why a teacher should not talk to or further educate their students on that point
Kozol wants teachers to enjoy what our students have to say and not limit them to saying what they are "expected to say"
Most times teachers can learn a thing or two from listening to their students rather than having their students constantly listening to them Chapter 6: The Little Piper Some students will seemed determined not to like us as their teacher
These students who are reluctant too learn or behave usually have a back story to why the are acting in such a way
Teachers need to be patient and intuitive when dealing with these students
Too often do teachers just refer these students too quickly and the students are labelized with something that is not true
ex: ADHD or Behavioral issues
Often times it is hard for a student to shed these labels once they are given them
Teachers must take the time to listen to their students and show that they care about their students as people as well as learners
If teachers are patient, the students will eventually become comfortable and open up to the teacher Chapter 7: The Uses of "Diversity" Chapter 8: Beware of the Jargon Factory Chapter 9: Aesthetic Merimet Kozol says that there is not such thing as a happiness index for the students in school, but there should be
Teachers should try to spice up the school day by incorporating fun and humorous activities for the students
These will keep kids happy in school and happy students are willing to learn and be at school
Teachers must keep a sense of artistry and creativity because these two ideas are "under assault" in the current educational environment
Teaching is an art, and must be kept this way
Policy makers are attempting to turn education into a science instead of an art form
Teaching and learning is more effective when creativity is brought into the classroom by both the students and the teachers. Kozol criticizes the use of the word "diversity" throughout this chapter
Not enough diversity programs are being implemented into truly diverse schools
It seems that every time we see a diversity program it is in a non diverse school
Believes the schools with a diverse student body should be where the teaching of the concept of diversity should be most prominent
Students must learn how the diversity in our nation is affecting them now, not just how it affected people in the 50s and 60s
If we relate it to the student's lives, than they will better understand the concept and be aware of it in today's society Public education has a lot of fancy words in its language
Ex: meta-cognition and meta-strategy
While this language is appropriate for conferences and meetings with adminsitrators, teachers should try to avoid using it in the classrooms
Students are not training to be teachers, they are in the classroom to learn the content and skills to take out in life
Students do not need to be worried about what these big words mean
Students will benefit from normal language and concepts
Using educational jargon in the classroom can be harmful to the students learning because they will be distracted by what the words mean rather than the content Chapter 10: High-Stakes Testing and Other Modern Miseries High-stakes testing are developing educational gaps between school districts
Low performing schools curriculum's are being negatively effected from these tests
High performing schools are being given the upper hand because of their performance on these tests
In the low performing schools, teaching the students how to take the tests is becoming pert of the curriculum
Instead of content, teachers are being forced to focus on these test scores
This is negatively effecting the student's experience in school
Schools become more worried about the test scores than their student's actual experience during school Chapter 11: The Single Worst, Most Dangerous Idea Kozol says that vouchers for families to choose where their students go to school is the worst idea for an educational system to implement
This system essentially would privatize the school system
This privitization of the school system would essentially begin to leave people behind
People who do not recieve vouchers are at a disadvantage because they can not choose where they feel their child can get the best education
Vouchers would turn the school system into a business
Schools would be having to turn students away from getting a public education
This takes away the idea of having a "public" education if some people have an advantage over others Chapter 12: It is Evil to Tell Lies to Children Being truthful with out students is the most important thing as a teacher
We especially need to be truthful with our students about the laws and legal side of education, since it affects them directly
Students should be given the opportunity to make their own judgements about their education
Kozol makes a case that students should be aware of the inequalities among schools and how every student does not truly have an equal opportunity to obtain an education
Teachers need to find a way to educate their students on these realities and allow for the students to see how the education system they are in works Chapter 13: Loss of Innocence In this chapter, Kozol offers his opinions about middle schools and high schools
Kozol believes that separate middle schools create an unnecessary learning hurdle for students
He suggests that K-8 schools are the solution
Older students can act as mentors for the younger students and the students will not have to get reacquainted with any new surroundings
Kozol also says a loss of innocence occurs in middle schools and high schools are because of 2 main reasons
One reason is because of aesthetics in middle schools and high schools
A good environment allows students to feel comfortable and a poor environment makes students feel unwilling to participate innocently in school
The second reason is over crowding in our schools
Students who feel cramped in school do not feel as though their school is condusive to learning, causing them to feel disconnected with their school
Chapter 15: Seeds of Hope, Sources of Resilience Kozol again makes the point that young teachers are they way that all the issues in the education system can be changed for the better

These new young teachers are who are going to make our kids want to learn in school and make our kids feel that school is crucial to their growth as human beings

"...teachers who have chosen out of love to work with children find their ultimate reward." Conclusion This book insightful into how young teachers can be , and are influential to every aspect of the educational system

These young teachers bring new ideas and creativity to their classroom and have all the ability to inspire learning into their young students

Even though, the book was written to a young elementary teacher, the lessons presented throughout the book definitely relate to all levels of teaching

I feel I have learned a lot from this book and I feel I will be a better, more intuitive teacher because of this book Kozol explains that teachers are the eye witnesses of the issues in our education systemYoung teachers need to be the catalyst to try and solve and fix the issues that are currently facing our educational systemYoung teachers bring in new ideas to the systemThese new ideas are what will change the education system for the benefit o f all involvedThe only way for the system to change is for the teachers to be outspoken about what they feel needs to be changedTeachers have many outlets to change the systemEx: In their personal classroom or at board meetings Kozol also says that parents are crucial to making these changes to the systemIf parents and teachers work together, changes can be made to fix the issues in our current education system Chapter 14: Teachers as Witnesses
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