Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor I have just finished reading, with intense
interest, the letters to the editor about Assertive Discipline
["Letters,'' June/July 1990]. I have spent a great deal of time
studying, observing, and learning about both Lee Canter's Assertive
Discipline and Richard Curwin's Discipline with Dignity. I have
presented both programs to my staff and encourage them to utilize the
best of both programs coupled with their own style in creating their
own individual classroom plan. I have found that once a plan has been
put in place, it is not the plan that makes a teacher effective. It is
the qualities, skills, and abilities of the individual teacher that
determine whether he or she will deal with students effectively. Ben F.
Lewis Principal Westside High School Coal Hill, Ark. In your recent
article ["Order in the Classroom,'' April 1990] you covered thoroughly
the opinions of Assertive Discipline's critics in the early 1980s. You
also reported many of my comments and the changes I suggest for those
using my program. However, I was struck by an obvious omission--the
voice of teachers. For a magazine with your title, it is a disservice
to omit the opinions of the hundreds of thousands of teachers who daily
use Assertive Discipline techniques to benefit millions of students. It
is these teachers who have made Assertive Discipline what it is today.
As with any program, there are a few teachers who have been
incompletely trained or have misinterpreted the concepts, but the
majority are caring individuals who have found a system that enables
them to manage their classrooms in a safe, positive, and effective way.
Assertive Discipline is more widespread than ever. According to
Instructor magazine, Assertive Discipline was rated "the most helpful''
resource in solving behavior problems. Thanks to the commitment and
dedication of these teachers, public schools across the country are
providing children with the learning environment they so richly
deserve. Every day the members of my company work toward developing
programs that will improve the quality of education. We are responsive
to the changing times and needs of students and teachers. We strive to
give both educators and parents the tools to better communicate with
students and direct them toward becoming responsible, happy, and
well-educated members of society. I am indeed proud to be part of the
process. Lee Canter Lee Canter & Associates Santa Monica, Calif.
believe the issues in the Assertive Discipline debate have been
thoroughly aired. Canter gets the last word. I was pleased to see that
you addressed the intensely taboo subject of homosexual teenagers
["Reach May 1990]. As a high school teacher teen's "coming out'' more
than once. In the rural community where I teach, this subject is not
discussed. The teens I see must struggle within themselves in a private
world of prejudice and bigotry, while we are pressured to remain silent
through this painful process. It is no wonder that 30 percent of teen
suicides are homosexually related.
Gerry Vogler Classroom Film/Video Center Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
I really enjoyed your special section for new teachers ["From Student To Teacher,'' April 1990]. How I wish such information was available to me in my first year in the trenches. My colleagues and I often discuss, in the sanctum of the faculty room, our disgust with our education courses that taught us nothing about real teaching. We've come to believe that extended internships in the classroom are tremendously more important than pie-in-the-sky, poorly taught college education courses.
One suggestion: Next time, include an article on learning the names and personalities of all the secretaries and custodians. They're the people that really can help a new teacher. Woody Lyndaker General Brown Central School Dester, N.Y. My first year was, quite honestly, atrocious! In addition to the usual rookie difficulties, I had surgery on my vocal chords in October and broke my leg (in front of my students) in December. Few people expected me to stick it out. But with the support of my parents--my father is a veteran teacher in the inner city--and a deepseated desire to teach, I came back. I have now completed my fourth year and finally love what I am doing. Along the way, I have learned to do things to help me get through the hassle and past the pain. I constantly remind myself why I am here: for the students. And I do things for myself, both personally and professionally.
My advice to first-year teachers: Don't give up. Aggie Ozello Highland High School Medina, Ohio
As a third-year teacher, I read with great interest your articles on new teachers. I believe the quality of one's master teacher has a lot to do with the level of trauma a first-year teacher will experience. Case in point: A colleague of mine who has been teaching for four years never felt the same level of frustration I have. His master teacher gave him detailed material and experience with classroom management, in part by using the casestudy method ["Scenes From The Class Struggle,'' April 1990]. I, on the other hand, had a set of master teachers who replied, "Don't worry, it will come,'' when I asked about the realities of classroom management.
Clayton W. Cook Douglass Junior High School Woodland, Calif.
In your listing of educational organizations ["The Company You Keep,'' April 1990], you failed to list the American Vocational Association, which has a membership of 40,000. AVA represents teachers, administrators, and related others in agriculture, adult education, business education, employment and training, health occupations, home economics, technology education, and other fields. It is located at: 1410 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314.
As a director of one of the 57 state vocational education associations, I want vocational-technical education teachers to know we care about them and are working on their behalf.
Barbara Kline Taylor Executive Director New Mexico Vocational Association Silver City, N.M.
I am sure many people would like to know what happened to Harriet Stein, the new teacher Sam Freedman wrote about in the excerpt from Small Victories that appeared in Teacher Magazine ["The Veteran And The Beginner,'' April 1990]. Harriet is no longer a beginner. In the two years since the book was written, she has taught 10th, 11th, and 12th graders creative writing, British and world literature, and reading. She has advised the literary magazine. Last term she taught her regular senior English class Antigone, Don Quixote, Kafka's Metamorphosis, Toni Morrison's Sula, and Camus's The Stranger. The choice of those works is not only a statement about inner-city kids' intellectual potential, it also shows that Harriet's intelligence, dedication, and sensitivity have made her a gifted, inspiring teacher.
Jessica Siegel New York City
How can the National Association of Elementary School Principals consider the "wacky'' behavior of some of its members worthy of a press release ["Class Dismissed,'' June/July l990]? Motivating children to read by sitting in Jello, shaving your head, dressing in drag, and the like is degrading and totally unprofessional. Why not motivate by example? A principal could reward students who read a certain number of books with an hour of shared reading with the principal, followed by an ice cream treat, a congratulatory phone call home, a video of a book classic, or a new book grab bag party.
<&CD100>So please, let us teach love and respect and reverence for books and reading by all means. But let us do so while maintaining dignity and respect and reverence within the aweinspiring vocation of school principal.
Sister Sara Kane Principal Sister Linda Nicholson Former Principal Precious Blood School Banning, Calif.
I disagree with your comment that Silly Putty serves no useful teaching function ["Class Dismissed,'' May 1990]. Silly Putty is an excellent example of a synthetic polymer and very easy to make. My science students have already seen the colors mentioned in the article, as well as neon orange. Making putty is the second most popular activity in our science class. Making slime is number one.
Dorothy Stallings Jefferson County High School Dandridge, Tenn.
Your article on copyright law was excellent ["Know Your Copy Rights,'' May 1990], but what about music? Please address this in a future issue. There are many teachers out there who think it's perfectly OK to make copies of entire songs for every student in the classroom. Lyric sheets or transparencies of music or lyrics for overhead projection violate the copyright law, but are also very common.
When copyright law is violated, composers and lyricists lose royalty income, publishers lose income, and students get the message that copying a friend's cassette tape or sheet must be OK because "teacher does it.''
Leslie Wolfe St. Paul Lutheran School San Diego
I was offended and insulted by the ignorant portrayal of coaches in your recent article about Linda Harrison ["Fighting The Power,'' June/July 1990]. Coaching experience provides opportunities for any individual to develop his or her abilities in dealing with many personality types, uniting them, and directing them toward a common goal, much the same as an effective administrator must with his teaching staff. I would not say that coaching should be a prerequisite to being an administrator, but my experience has shown me that coaches have much more field experience in the area of cooperation than most administrators who were previously in the autocratic classroom setting.
I am especially tired of the lack of recognition given to physical educators by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and now your magazine.
Margaret Crumly Physical Education Teacher and Coach Hilltop Junior High School Chula Vista, Calif.
I want to congratulate the parents of the gifted students in San Diego who fought to preserve gifted-and-talented classes ["On The Wrong Track?,'' May 1990]. If our nation were serious about producing top-notch engineers, scientists, and leaders in all fields, it would not propose that able 2nd graders be used as tutors for lessadvanced students. Gifted students should be given challenging assignments. Never should they be forced to sit bored, waiting for the class to finish. Holding the able back and mainstreaming everyone leads to mediocrity. Sally Elliot Blossomwood Elementary School Huntsville, Ala.
I am a student who has been tracked into gifted-and-talented classes. I find most of my classes to be dominated by tedium, and I am quite thoroughly bored. I found it intriguing that in your article on tracking, students who failed in the lowest tracks did better in a more challenging curriculum. But I found it strange that this was used as an argument against tracking and for homogeneous classes. If students seem to do better when more is expected of them, why should high achievers be put in homogeneous classes where less will be expected of them?
Juan Lang Junior Central Union High School El Centro, Calif.