Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teach Tony Danza - Pt 3

Yes. I should be grading papers right now, why do you ask?

This episode was all about over-extending yourself. The show opens with Tony singing the national anthem at the Phillies game. He's not too bad, actually. Another teacher then talks to Tony about being the guest speaker at senior pin night.Tony says it's hard to say no, but thinks he might be spreading himself kind of thin. He is falling into the first year trap of saying yes to everything, probably exacerbated by the fact that he is who he is. In addition, apparently he could not get out of a contracted event in Atlantic City for the coming weekend and is a little worried about it. Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Tony is having trouble with Algernon (odd name, but there have been odder ones in my classroom). Tony asks the kids to turn in their homework but Algernon won't turn it in. Al doesn't understand why Tony keeps getting on him. David Cohn says not to push him too hard, he's the type of kid you have to earn his respect. That's true. There are kids that you have to nudge and kids you have to push, and kids you learn to just leave alone on some days. The math teacher Crystal Green comes to talk to Tony, says that Al participates in math class and she doesn't know why he is being so resistant in Tony's class....well duh, she's a pretty young teacher. Sometimes you just hit a kid the wrong way and you just can't get them back. It's frustrating, especially when you trealize that a kid is a brilliant kid, but just not doing things in YOUR class. It makes you feel like MORE of a failure. Tony gets a message that the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter (speaking of odd names....that is interesting....). the Mayor wants Tony to do an emcee performance for his wife's foundation at the end of the week, and is able to talk him into it somehow. More work that Tony should have said no to.

Tony meets with the drill team, the band instructor, the break dancers, and the choir director about getting involved in the show for the mayor. He brings Walter Painter, his choreographer (?) to organize the kids, which is chaotic to say the least. The kids don't think Walter knows anything about dance and are a little judgmental, but then they change their minds when they find out he has choreographed grammy shows and so on, although they think he is nagging on them. Rehearsal is completely insane and the kids are screwing around. Tony meets with the scary assistant principal, Ms. DeNaples, to ask for her help and she reluctantly agrees to coordinate things. Back in class, Tony again asks for homework to be passed in, Al doesn't turn in his homework, and Tony gives him "strike 2." Nakiya does not like the fact that Tony treats Al differently and Al says he doens't worry about the strikes because he knows they don't mean anything.

Chuck Carr, geometry teacher, comes to check on Tony, Tony wishes he was a better teacher, Chuck says it takes a while and asks if he is acting the teacher or being the teacher. Good question, Chuck. At the rehearsal stage that night, Tony is struggling with the dancing and says he is tired and gets up at 4:30 every morning, is involved in football, the mayor, and Atlantic City, and the musicians look bored while Tony talks about how busy he is. Back in class, Tony discusses image anad asks Al for an image. Al refuses, and Tony says he is not getting though to him, and decides to call Al's mom. He wonders what the outcome of a call home will be - a beating, a lecture, you never know what is going to happen if you call home, especially if the kid's parents don't speak English and come from a culture where there is no communication between school and home unless it is negative. Al's mom says Al gets bored and should tell the teacher what he wants to do. (Really? That is not the way it works in the real world, but thanks for giving your kid the belief that they don't have to do anything they don't want to do. Talk about the Age of Entitlement!)  After school, Assistant principal DeNaples comes in to help Tony cooordinate the 150 kids participating in the mayor's show. Tony is still coaching football and practicing for the mayor's show at nights, as well as teaching and everything else. Kids are starting to think he is looking tired. David Cohn says Tony looks physically exhausted and is back to where he was at the beginning of the year.

Al gets kicked out of the PSAT with the hot teacher, and we find out later it is because he called her a b***h and then claimed he didn't. Tony goes to In School Suspension facility and talks to Al about cleaning up his act. Saturday morning, Tony goes to get a haircut, then to the football game. Meanwhile at Loews Theatre,  the kids are practicing for the night show with the mayor, but are really worried that Tony is skipping out on them when he isn't there for the rehearsals during the day. Tony finally arrives at Loews at 4:30, and the kids feel better until the theatre starts filling up and then get really nervous. The show goes great, and the kids are kind of amazed that the audiences likes them so much. At the after party.....Oh Ms DeNaples, we saw you dancing....and you kissed Tony!! Then Tony goes to Atlantic City and does the show there.

The next week at school Tony talks to the coach and decides to step down as the assistant coach - a wise decision, since he admits that he doesn't really know what he's doing and says that he needs to focus on being a teacher first. since that's what he's here to do. Tony talks to Al, asks if he would be willing to present to the class, says he's a pretty good writer. Al says no, but seems to respond to Tony better than before. Al thinks that Tony cares more than other teachers, that other teachers just kick him out of class and Tony never does that.

We didn't see nearly enough of my favorite principal, Principal Carroll, this time, and there was only one shot of Monte, with NO WORDS. But this episode brought up a couple of things I would like to address. First of all,  it is easy to get over booked when you are a teacher. Between lesson planning, grading, and actually being in the classroom teaching, your time goes away quickly and then you add in after school tutoring, faculty meetings, paperwork, IEPs, and all the other things that are just a part of life and you find yourself with no time. If you try and add things like being a club advisor or coaching, you will find yourself stretched pretty thin. When I taught in Texas, some coaches actually slept at the school some nights.

The second thing I want to address is the issue with Al. A kid like that is incredibly frustrating to have in classs. They are bright, but refuse to take AP classes because they have to actually work in them, but then they claim to be bored in regular classes and that is why they act out. That is a load of bull honkey. In my opinion, this kid has figured out how to manipulate Tony into trying too hard to please the student instead of just showing him that sometimes there are negative consequences to your decisions and you have to deal with those.

I was not as into this episode, simply because this one was so much about what was happening outside of school, but I will still continue to post reviews.


Melissa B. said...

Yeah, I'm grading too many papers, too. Took my daughter to a jobs fair at a local Marriott today. Sad to say, I fell asleep in the lobby. Mid-kid essay, too! AP timed writings will do that to a gal!

Pernicious Panda said...

Off topic here, but what do you think about the proposed plan to have Teach America come to Seattle?