As my free time is limited, I was only able to read a little bit at a time, but every minute spent reading it was more than worth my while. Here is a taste of the book for you:
Unfortunately, I did not get to go back and re-read/ take notes on it as planned (it is due back tomorrow), but here are some impressions of the book. The things that stayed with me even a couple weeks after reading it:
- Kopp does a great job of talking about the issue of educational inequity. She approaches the subject with a very realistic, yet optimistic tone.
- Teaching is leadership. This is something that is so clear to me, but that I find missing from much of my educational coursework. There is more to being a teacher than caring about children (not that caring for children is not a critical part of being a teacher). There is more than knowing curriculum content. Teaching is a holistic profession and the traits of a great teacher are almost synonymous with the traits of a good leader. Kopp illustrates this point (as well as all of the other main points in her book with examples of successful teachers), but it was this passage that really hit the point home for me:
"Every time we study teachers who are having a profound impact on the opportunities facing children growing up in low-income communities, we find teachers who operate like the most effective leaders in any context. They establish an ambitions vision for their students' success that will make a difference in their academic and life trajectories. They invest in other-students and their families--in this vision and in working hard to reach it. They are purposeful and strategic in moving toward it, constantly evaluating their students' progress and making adjustments to ensure their success. When they encounter obstacles, they do whatever it takes to overcome them, exerting extraordinary time, energy, and resourcefulness. They reflect on their accomplishments and shortcomings, seek and find help from veteran teachers and other colleagues, and improve over time."
I am pretty sure she just summed up the teacher I hope to be!
- I particularly liked the "Silver Bullets and Silver Scapegoats" chapter in which Kopp discusses many of the problems and "solutions" in today's discussion on educational reform. She explains that there is no one magic solution to education reform, but rather many factors working together.
- Kopp's final statement---simple, yet powerful: "We can unleash the potential of our urban and rural children to 'make history.' The question is simply whether we will."
As a future Corps Member, I am so glad that I took the time to read this. It gave me a better idea about what I am getting myself into and reaffirmed my decision to join Teach For America. I am excited to be a part of a group of people who are working together to make an impact on the lives of so many children--both in individual classrooms and through the national conversation on educational reform.
I highly encourage anyone in the field of education to read this book. I am not saying Kopp has all of the answers, but I found the book a refreshing look at the state of education and education reform. For more information, visit the book's website: http://achancetomakehistory.org/