What I Know
I had bought into the
fallacy that basically
anybody smart and willing
can jump in and teach.
calm from moments before irrevocably lost.
The remaining 99.9 percent of the school year
felt defined by this initial blunder. I perpetually
battled uphill to gain command of the class, an
often fruitless effort. Instead of teaching fractions,
I struggled to avert fisticuffs.
I scratched out minor victories as the year wore
on, but my students hadn’t learned nearly as
much as I aspired to teach them. Our classroom
didn’t resemble school as I had experienced it as
a youngster. If my own daughter had been in that
turbulent environment, I’d have had a heart attack.
© JON CANNELL/CORBIS
At the end of the school year I resigned, joining the
legions of teachers who bolt the profession in their
first years. I was sure that my initial power struggle
with Fausto had cost the class a stable school year.
More Than Just Jumping In
I did return to teaching a year later, determined
to get it right. Since then, and especially after the
release of The Great Expectations School, my memoir
about that rookie year, I’ve shared in dozens of
conversations with educators and stakeholders
about how to mitigate the steep learning curve of