What We’re Watching: The Myth of the Super Teacher

By Education Next 08/17/2012

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Roxanna Elden, an English teacher at Hialeah High School, delivered this presentation on “The Myth of the Super Teacher” at the plenary session of the Education Writers Association’s 65th National Seminar, “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness.” Elden discusses the difficulties new teachers face reconciling the ideal image of successful “super teachers” with the harsh realities of real life teaching.

Elden is the author of the Education Next article “Data-Driven and Off Course” (Winter 2011).  Her book, See Me After Class, was blurbed by Dave Barry, who wrote, ““You know how you’ve always thought that if you were a teacher, you’d go insane? Well, this very funny book proves that you would. But in a good way.”

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  • Jennie says:

    As usual, Ms. Elden makes extremely valid points about what we should (and should not) expect of our teachers, with a heavy dose of humor. Being funny doesn’t make it less real. No teacher is a superhero, and novice teachers even less so. Programs that “train” teachers by making them believe that the only reason certain students have not had academic success (by which they mean high test scores) so far is because they have had lazy, incompetent teachers who don’t care, and that the solution to the problem is for them to have enthusiastic first-year teachers with almost no experience but a lot of heart and high expectations, are not just counterproductive, they’re dangerous. All the more so when they lie about their results (TFA) to convince the media and politicians that their novice teachers are anything other than just that…novices who need a lot of time, training and practice to become good teachers.

    Excellent job, Ms. Elden!

  • Elke says:

    This is quite the inspirational speech. For anyone who would like to see a more realistic depiction of what a teacher faces on a daily basis, I would heartily recommend ‘Entre les murs’ (English title is ‘The Class’). It won a palme d’or at Cannes and feels very authentic – there are moments of succes and hope, but just as much frustration and failure. It’s not so much black and white as it is authentic.

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