Tom Bloch on Success as a Teacher

Tom Bloch: I would say that in an urban setting, a teacher has to recognize that they may not get a whole lot of respect from students, and that for me was a very difficult eye-opener, because I came from an environment where I got lots of respect as a CEO, working with highly-motivated people who wanted to get ahead, and suddenly I was in a classroom, where I was working with students who often didn’t see themselves as even having a future, and so why should they invest their time and effort in their education if there is no real future for them?

And so dealing with an apathetic or a disrespectful student, I think, is a bit more common in the urban core than you would find in a suburban school. And one of the things I learned, and it took me quite a while to learn this is how does a teacher teach respect? And I finally figured it out, it is to show respect. If you show a kid enough respect, sooner or later that child will start showing you respect.

About half of all new urban teachers leave within three years. It’s a very scary statistic. It suggests to me two things. One is it’s a very difficult environment in which to succeed, number 1. And number 2, it suggests that we’re not doing an adequate job preparing young teachers for this environment. So I think, as long as people understand the challenges that they’re going to encounter as a teacher in the urban core and can prepare themselves for that, they can succeed. And once you get it, once you figure out how to be successful, it is a terribly satisfying profession.


Recorded on: October 13, 2008


Tom Bloch says the attrition rate is high for educators who are just starting out in urban schools, but, if they show respect, they will receive respect.

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