Hold Me Close, Young Tony Danza…


I love FRIENDS.  Especially Phoebe.  And particularly her rendition of Tiny Dancer.  This is now always the first thing that comes to mind when I see/hear of Tony Danza.  No exception today when I came across an article on Good explaining that during the 2009-2010 school year the actor ditched Hollywood for a gig teaching tenth grade English at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. Now Danza’s written a book,I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, about the experience.

It’s an article worth reading and it comes with three quotes worth sharing:

 “teachers have no problem being held accountable by parents. In fact, they crave parent involvement.”


“(parents need to) persuade their sons and daughters to take part in their own education.”


“kids have to understand that it’s their responsibility to do well—no matter who their teacher is or the quality of their school.”


While it might sound like teachers just have to sit back and wait for the parents and the kids to get with the program, I don’t think this is it at all – which is emphasized in the concluding paragraph that states only when all three (parents, kids and teachers) work together will things turn around for the better.

During the summer, I had the opportunity to interview Suzy Greenslade from Discovery1 school in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Her school works because she (and her fellow teachers) work hard to build a relationship with the kids and with the parents. The school is clear on what they believe in, what their core values are and families sign up for Discovery1 knowing these and knowing that part of what makes this school work is their involvement.

I think the key factor here is in being clear about your purpose, about defining who you are.  If you want your kids to be passionate – be a passionate teacher and then expect the same of your students.  If you want parental involvement – invite parents to partner with you in a way that acknowledges and values their strengths, and supports the learning in your room.  If you want kids to take responsibility, give them something to be responsible for.  And don’t deviate.

Think about the words used to describe your classroom or school on a daily basis or when a potential new family comes around. Then take a closer look when no one is watching.  Do your beliefs match your behavior?