Apparently, Tony Danza has a new reality show where he’s teaching English in a Northeast Philadelphia high school. “Teach” shows Danza teaching a daily double-session of English to a hand-picked class of students — hand-picked to be troublesome, I guess, in that he says some have third-grade reading levels and some are on level or just above.
Danza actually has an education degree, but it was earned well before “Who’s the Boss” (which his students are too young to have seen). He’s never taught before, and so his experience is being advertised, at least in this article, as similar to that of any first-year teacher… only with cameras and sound techs lining the back wall of his classroom.
In as much as this might bring to light the difficulties of being a first-year (or any-year) high school teacher, I hope the show succeeds. More than that, I hope Danza succeeds, because he’s teaching real kids in a real school who aren’t going to have B-movie offers to fall back on if this experiment fails.
The profile makes it sound like a good experience all around, so far:
His first week in the classroom, he cried three times, he said. Explaining the concept of the omniscient narrator, Danza didn’t get his facts quite right, and one of his students straightened him out.
Cameras rolled the whole time. He said he felt like calling every teacher he’d ever had and apologizing because he just didn’t get how difficult their jobs were.
So far, Danza has guided his 26 sophomores through units on poetry and social justice, Julius Caesar and Of Mice and Men. Although he teaches only one class, a double period mid-morning, he signs in at 7 a.m. like everyone else. He submits lesson plans, attends daily meetings with his colleagues, and covers others’ classes.
Nearly everyone I’ve met who’s done any form of teaching has had the moment where they realize that standing in front of the class is much different than they thought it was. (For me, the moment was about realizing that, yes, the teacher can see when you’re not paying attention).
Good teachers learn every time they teach, so it sounds like Danza isn’t that bad off. If I had a TV, I might even watch this.