Excerpt from Newsday story:
Teachers want to talk
BY ELLEN YAN
February 3, 2005
Stop talking in class -- that's the message many teachers are getting from the Education Department.
Many are ready to overthrow a "workshop model" of teaching that limits lessons to 10 minutes, with the chunk of the 40-minute period reserved for student group work -- with minimal adult interference allowed, some said -- and the last five minutes spent sharing results.
"We are no longer teachers. We are coat racks," said Steve Nathan, a social studies teacher at Russell Sage Junior High School in Forest Hills.
Chancellor Joel Klein last year introduced the workshop model primarily in math and English, but this year, critics said, many more schools across the city have been ordered to follow the model in every subject and every day.
The point is to replace the "chalk and talk" approach with a give-and-take style of learning that can help boost lagging students. It's a no-no to have students quietly jot notes all day.
One rationale is students learn well from peers, but teachers report that students without a clue aren't picking up much from each other during group work.
The result is that instructors, trying to "sneak in teaching," have been written up for workshop model lapses, union officials said. Other teachers have conspired with students to act immersed in the workshop model if an administrator pops into the room.
"Can you imagine trying to teach physics in 10-minute sound bites?" said Jeff Zahler, teachers union representative for Queens school district 30.
The model and other issues have reached such a boiling point in parts of Queens and Brooklyn that hundreds of teachers will protest at 3:30 p.m. today at education offices in Long Island City.
"This administration ... believes teachers are supposed to be coaches, not teachers," said teachers union head Randi Weingarten.