Tag Archives: Shared Responsibility

Purchase ‘The Village Proposal’ and Support Shared Responsibility in Education

Due out this September from Rowman & Littlefield!  Click here to preorder a copy and support shared responsibility in education!

Here’s what the education community, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, has been saying about Chris’s new book, The Village Proposal:

“Public schools have been blamed for every ill created by the larger society: poverty, the breakdown of a strong family unit, adolescent crime, adult crime, and so forth. Lost in all the reform talk, is the voice of the teacher. . . . Christopher Paslay is a teacher who knows what students need and what teachers need to help students achieve and succeed. We applaud his efforts in the classroom, in the school and now in his effort to inform the larger community by authoring The Village Proposal.”—Jerry T. Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

“Many educational books are written by so called ‘educational experts’ who would not last a day teaching in an urban high school. It is refreshing to read a book by someone who has walked the walk. This book is a well-written account by an actual insider of his challenges of teaching in a large, urban school setting, and what it takes to succeed in this environment. Chris Paslay comes to the conclusion that a teacher is the most important element of a student’s success in school, but they aren’t the only element. For a student to succeed, it really does involve a shared responsibility of ‘the village’ with the teacher as the point person.”—Brian Malloy, 2009 Philadelphia School District Teacher of the Year

“This book is a must read for anyone truly interested in the fight to reform our schools. Paslay’s honest account of his life and the challenges he faced to become a successful teacher in urban schools is exactly what is missing from today’s policy debates; the insightful perspective of someone who has been in the arena where too many fear to tread.”—Jack Stollsteimer, former Pennsylvania Safe Schools Advocate

The Village Proposal shows the success and failure of America’s public school system from top to bottom, and explains how everyone needs to have accountability when it comes to educating children. It’s a great read for those interested in the perspectives of an everyday schoolteacher.”—James Tarabocchia, 2009 Pennsylvania Career Teacher of the Year

“Chris Paslay uses personal memoir and documented research to make you think, really think, about education in our country. This is a must-read for every faculty book club.”—Cindi Rigsbee, 2009 finalist, National Teacher of the Year, and author of Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make

“Explore the learning process through the eyes of a teacher and understand how education must change if we are to recapture our past success. The Village Proposal also challenges those in the education business to stop exploiting problems for their own benefit. It is a must read and as it clearly demonstrates, there are no simple solutions and only by working together can we effectively change education.”—Harry Vincenzi, Ed.D., Psychologist and educator, co-author, Energy Tapping: How to rapidly eliminate anxiety, depression and cravings

The Village Proposal is based on the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. Part education commentary, part memoir, the book analyzes the theme of shared responsibility in public schools and evaluates the importance of sound teacher instruction; the effectiveness of America’s teacher colleges; the need for strong school leaders and supports; the need for strong parental and community involvement; the effectiveness of multiculturalism and social justice in closing the achievement gap; the relevancy of education policy; the impact of private business and politics on schools; and how the media and technology are influencing education.

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Lego Party

by Christopher Paslay

The following memoir was cut from the final version of The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility.  The book, which is part memoir, part education commentary, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield this September.  (Note: Names have been changed to protect privacy.)

It wasn’t until the first week of October, 1995, that I got a call to substitute.  The phone rang at six o’ clock in the morning, and the woman in charge of dispatching assignments on the other end of the line told me that an elementary school needed a sub for one of their 3rd grade special education classes. 

Although I had a degree in secondary English and was trained to teach high school, I accepted the assignment with a positive attitude.  I drove through the predominantly African American neighborhood to the school, parked my car on a side street, and found my way to the main office.  I was greeted by the secretary with a smile, given my roster, and told to proceed to the third floor of the building. 

When I got to the room, a staff member—a special education teacher who was on her prep and covering the class—met me at the door. 

“They’re all yours,” she said, and left.

The class was made up of only eight students.  They were all boys, all third graders, and all special education.  They were sitting quietly at their desks, drawing on loose leaf paper.  When I arrived, though, my presence stirred things up a bit. 

“Who are you?” a boy asked.

“I’m Mr. Paslay,” I told him, and then explained to the class that I’d be their teacher for the day. 

“Where’s Ms. Riable?” another asked.

“She’s not here today,” I said, and tried to keep things positive and friendly. 

Ms. Riable had left a lesson plan on her desk and she’d written several assignments on the board.  I was supposed to have the students take out their math workbooks and complete a basic arithmetic lesson.  I instructed them to do this and they cooperated for about five minutes, but soon they started getting up out of their seats and walking around the room.  I asked them nicely to sit down, but they weren’t responding. 

“Guys, come on,” I said patiently.  “You have to stay in your seats.” 

I changed activities, giving them coloring books and crayons, hoping this would keep them occupied.  It did for five minutes, the same as before, but then the same thing happened: they left their seats and started walking around.

I sat down at Ms. Riable’s desk and figured I’d let it go for a while.  I’d let them stroll around the room and use up some energy; they didn’t seem to be hurting anyone.  But as I scanned through the rest of Ms. Riable’s lessons to see what else I could do with them, the screaming started.  I looked up and saw that one boy had tackled another to the floor and that they were now wrestling.         

“Guys!” I shouted.  The boy that got tackled started crying.  Not knowing what to do, I picked up the emergency telephone on the wall, the one that went to the main office.  When the secretary answered, I explained the situation.  She said she’d send somebody up to help me out.  A few moments later, one of the special education teachers from across the hall came in and told the students to behave themselves.  They sat back down in their seats. 

This routine continued for the rest of the morning.  I’d do my best to get the students interested in something from Ms. Riable’s lessons, they’d get distracted and leave their seats, and I’d have to pick up the phone and threaten to call the office to settle things down; after I called the office twice, they stopped answering the phone. 

At lunchtime, another teacher came and took the students to the recess yard and I got an hour break.  After lunch, I took a shot at reading the class a story.  To my satisfaction, I pulled it off.  I read them Clifford the Big Red Dog.  They sat Indian style around me in the front of the room, completely silent, listening intently. 

Just then, the teacher who took the students to lunch an hour before popped in to see how I was doing.  “Oh, you’re so good with them,” she cooed, and walked away smiling.

When the story was over they wanted more.  I was tired of reading, and asked them what else they liked to do.

“Legos!” one boy shouted.  He took me to the book case in the corner where there was a container filled with them.

“You guys are allowed to play with these?” I asked the boy.

He said that they were, that Ms. Riable let them play with them on Fridays if they were good all week and got their work done.  It was only Monday, but what the heck, I figured I’d let them play with some Legos.  It might keep them occupied for the last hour of the day. 

When they took their seats, I gave out the Legos.  They played with them . . . for a while.  After ten minutes however, they started throwing them around the room.  Lego pieces went zipping through the air like exploding fireworks.  I shouted for them to stop, but in the end I had to go around, student by student, and take the pieces away and put them back into the big white bucket. 

I spent the last 15 minutes of the day cleaning up the room.  I found Legos pieces everywhere.  I shut the classroom windows as I cleaned, afraid that if I didn’t, one of the kids would literally jump out the window while my back was turned and fall three stories to his death.

When the bell rang I was told to take the students out back into the recess yard so their parents could pick them up.  On the way out into the yard, one of my students suddenly jumped on another boy’s back and threw him to the ground.  The boy on the bottom bumped his head on the concrete and started crying at the top of his lungs.  The mother of the crying boy came up to me, picked him up off the ground, brushed him off, and told him to settle down.  She proceeded to wipe the snots coming from his nose.

I explained what happened, but she didn’t seem too upset; it was par for the course.  I apologized and she left.

I went back inside to the main office so I could return the roster and sign out.  There, the secretary said to me, “Thank you so much.  Will we see you tomorrow, then?  Ms. Riable will probably be out for a while, maybe six weeks, and we need a long term sub.”

“I don’t know,” I said. 

The secretary seemed confused.  “Well, you have a job here for the next four weeks, if you want it.”

I told her I’d have to think about it, which was a lie.  I knew I’d never be coming back to that school.  In fact, at that very moment, I was sure I’d never teach another day in my life. 

It would be 23 months before I set foot in another classroom.

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Release Date Set for ‘The Village Proposal’

The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility, a book on school reform written by Philadelphia School District teacher Christopher Paslay, will be officially released by Rowman & Littlefield Education on September 28, 2011

To preorder a copy, please click here.

The Village Proposal is based on the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. Part education commentary, part memoir, the book analyzes the theme of shared responsibility in public schools and evaluates the importance of sound teacher instruction; the effectiveness of America’s teacher colleges; the need for strong school leaders and supports; the need for strong parental and community involvement; the effectiveness of multiculturalism and social justice in closing the achievement gap; the relevancy of education policy; the impact of private business and politics on schools; and how the media and technology are influencing education.

 About the Author

Christopher Paslay teaches high school English in the Philadelphia School District where he’s worked since 1997. He’s a frequent contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, where his articles on education and school reform often appear.

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‘The Village Proposal’ to be Published by Rowman & Littlefield

Good news!  My new book titled The Village Proposal: Why Education is a Shared Responsibility is officially under contract with Rowman & Littlefield Education, an imprint of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. 

As described in an earlier blog post, The Village Proposal is based on the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.  Part education commentary, part memoir, the book analyzes the theme of “shared responsibility” in education, and examines the various entities that have an impact on America’s schools.  Because teachers are the centerpiece of education, the story of my teaching career is told in alternating chapters opposite my commentary on shared responsibility.

 

Although a release date has not been set by the publisher, I’m working diligently with my editor and hope to see the book on the shelf and in education catalogues by the end of 2011. 

 

With a large portion of this writing project completed, I hope to get back into the routine of blogging; those that read this blog are aware that entries in 2010 have been few and far between.  I apologize for this.  Between family, grad school, teaching full time (including summer SLAM), and writing a book, time is limited. 

 

I look forward to the 2010-11 school year, and to welcoming all of my new students and their families.  I also look forward to blogging once again on Chalk and Talk, and reengaging in conversations aimed at strengthening education. 

 

Thanks to all of you who helped me find a publisher.  I’ll keep you posted on the release date of the book. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Christopher Paslay      

 

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