Teach, starring Tony Danza

“Teach,” featuring actor Tony Danza as a sophomore English teacher at Philadelphia’s Northeast High, is billed as a reality show, though Danza teaches only one class of student volunteers with a teacher coach sitting in the back of the room to help. Danza tries hard, everyone agrees.

But Danza talks too much, writes Hank Stuever in the Washington Post.

In “Teach,” we’re not so much waiting for Superman as we’re waiting for Danza to shut up.

He arrives in early September for the first day of classes at Northeast High School — a massive campus of 3,700 widely diverse students — and he is all but certain that his winning personality will charm the teenagers into successful learning. (He raps! He tap-dances! He tells unending, tangential stories about his Brooklyn boyhood, his garbage-collector father, his boxing career, his acting career, his marriages!)

. . . What makes “Teach: Tony Danza” worth watching are the teenagers themselves and the glimpses of other teachers who make the place work. Danza, meanwhile, becomes an irritating, whirling, self-aggrandizing bundle of nerves.

Aaron Traister of Salon complains about The useless tears of Tony Danza.

He bursts into tears  after his teaching coach ever so gently busts his balls — for breaking  into tears. . . . His students rip on him for sweating too much and suggest that  he should wear a double layer of undershirts. Actually, the kids rip on Danza about a lot of things, from his grasp of the material to his classroom management, to his crying.

But, at least, the show is honest about including Danza’s silly and awkward moments, Traister writes.

Even Danza’s insistence on performing his way through classes trying to keep the kids entertained  rather than educated is a cringe-inducingly accurate portrayal of a  common trap for young teachers.

The show is really about a fish out of water, not a teacher, Traister writes.  The real teachers — who don’t have one hand-picked class, a coach and a lot of free time — should be the stars.

Still, Principal Linda Carroll said she’d hire Danza to teach, reports NPR’s Andy Dehnart.

No question because he’s funny, he’s caring, he understands that before you can teach a thing, you have to connect and build a relationship with a child, and he’s willing to do that.

Before going into boxing and then acting, Danza earned a degree in history education at the University of Dubuque.

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  1. I taught for 42 years and retired at age 65, three years ago. I taught in inner city schools,the South Bronx, suburban schools, and average American schools. This show is spot on. Tony Danza does not talk too much. His stories are relevant and from experience, I know that someday, at least a few of his students will remember them and will have learned from them. The problem is, many people do not want to listen, just s they do not want to read. Think short and sweet. Labels as “gifted”, “special needs”, “emotional problems”, “ADHD”, sometimes are used as an excuse. We teachers had another one, “LSS” (little shit syndrome) that often was just as applicable. I would love to see Hank Syuever sub for 1 month in an inner city high school. Chances are he wouldn’t last. I was skeptical when I read about the show but Tony Danza is a real person, trying his best to teach in a very difficult situation. He is willing to learn and willing to admit his mistakes. We need more teachers like him. As for his tears, a teacher who cares sheds many of them, particularly, the first few years. It’s the hardest job and one of the least respected. And remember, in this show, he only has one class. Most teachers have 4 or 5.

  2. What Noreen said.

  3. Its funny, I watched episode 2 last night, and while Tony Danza could be considered a bit eccentric, I know that those emotions and frustrations are real. Why? Because I am a 24 year old English teacher in an underfunded inner city-like school. You cry like that sometimes…you don’t understand exactly why you’re crying, the emotions one can feel dealing with the kids, the environment, the lack of funding, the law, the discrepancies, etc. can drive a new teacher mad. You come in with such idealism, and expect that the students will put in their part, but this is a myth. You have to make those kids want to do well in your class, and you need to be strong enough not to let them slide through your it. Dealing with a gifted kid who isn’t challenged can be difficult because you have to slow everything down for the rest of the kids in your class, many who have reading levels that are below high school levels. I think what this show highlights, even in its somewhat limited manner, is that teaching isn’t babysitting, and unfortunately teaching isn’t just about teaching either. You have to roll with the punches and those punches can break you down sometimes. This is real, and it is hard. People want us to be caring, inspiring, and effective, but it is not as easy as that. He is making points, whether out of ignorance or out of boldness, that all teachers feel. Some students using SPED as a crutch. Students not putting in the effort they personally need in order to succeed, the difficulty of making subject matter comprehensible to some and challenging to others. It is all difficult, and Tony Danza gets a chance to “school” the general public on these difficulties.

  4. P.S. As for the name calling at criticism from students, guess what, that isn’t uncommon. I gave a kid a worksheet last week and she said “You’re a B**** and you give too much work.” Again, you can’t let it effect you and you have to nip such behavior in the bud. It happens all the time, but the main point is that it happens. No one goes into these schools and has immediate control without experience. Classroom management and the air of respect takes time. Anyone who thinks that they can walk into some of these schools and even get the attention of these students immediately, is mistaken.

  5. Barbara B. Gilman says:

    I just retired after teaching English for 40 years. Mr Danza’s behavior as a “teacher” found me fleeing fthis reality show. His constant talking, crying, and insistence that kids just need to “try harder” sadly showcase the fact that Mr Danza’s ego is the star in his classroom. His arrogance insists on ignoring instruction suggestions from his mentor. He believes that he knows student learning needs better than diagnostic tests that support learning in smaller groups for some students.
    Mr Danza should teach, if he chooses, but after he gets beyond feeling sorry for himself, studies the variety of learning needs students face, and puts in some serious student teaching time where he would be forced to modify his behavior and listen to constructive educational criticism.


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