Tony Danza’s I’d like to apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had

September 10th, 2012

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Photo Credit: Thinkfactory Media/Barbara Johnston

Book Review: I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, by Tony Danza

“Never smile before Christmas…They will eat you alive.” This advice, given to countless new teachers for decades, is given to Tony Danza as he starts his next adventure as an educator. Danza’s warm banter makes me feel I have a front row seat in his classroom and to his dramatic moments—crying over classroom poor performance (his), enthusiasm for team sports (staying in Philly instead of returning to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving), encouraging other teachers in a talent show, and field trips to Washington DC and New York City. Extravadanza, the student run show, raises money for the crisis in Haiti—at every step you can hear Danza engaging students in their own learning.

His obvious extras — products of filming a reality television show in the classroom — like air conditioning, wifi, windows, and unlimited Xeroxing, are not to be taken lightly when considering public school teaching. Having and sharing YouTube and even the movie version “Of Mice and Men” do make a difference. Resources are a huge issue in teaching, and Danza does discuss how teaching 150 students well requires a superhuman effort on the part of educators. I loved learning about his rap songs, poetry contests, and ways to connect modern day kids to Shakespeare. Having daily feedback from a competent mentor is something that would help any teacher improve. He was lucky to be in a school with Small Learning Communities (SLC); like Danza, I got much assistance from this group when I taught 8th grade. Not every school has them, but you can see from his examples that SLC can be a lifeline for a drowning first year teacher.

Click here to read the FULL REVIEW at Wandering Educators.

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