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KIPP charter schools and the behavior modification of…teachers

“The No-Nonsense Nurturer Program has transformed the lives of thousands of students by transforming the practices of their teachers… It is simply a must-learn set of new skills for every teacher in America.”

Dave Levin
Co-Founder, KIPP Schools

Remember that quote while you read this edushyster post:

“I Am Not Tom Brady”

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!*

Meet C3PO
Last year, my school contracted with the Center for Transformational Training or CT3 to train teachers using an approach called No Nonsense Nurturing. It c3powas supposed to make us more effective instructors by providing *immediate, non-distracting feedback to teachers using wireless technology.* In other words, earpieces and walkie talkies. I wore a bug in my ear. I didn’t have a mouthpiece. Meanwhile an official No Nonsense Nurturer, along with the school’s first year assistant principal and first year behavior intervention coach, controlled me remotely from the corner of the room where they shared a walkie talkie. I referred to the CT3 training as C-3PO after the Star Wars robot, but C-3PO actually had more personality than we were allowed. The robot also spoke his mind.

No Nonsense Nurturing
If you’re not familiar with No Nonsense Nurturing or NNN, let’s just say that there is more nonsense than nurturing. The approach starts from the view that no nonsenseurban students, like my Lawrence, MA middle schoolers, benefit from a robotic style of teaching that treats, and disciplines, all students the same. This translated into the specific instruction that forbade us from speaking to our students in full sentences. Instead, we were to communicate with them using precise directions. As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: *In seats, zero talking, page 6 questions 1-4.* But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style.  *Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6.*

Robot moves
My efforts to make the narration seem less robotic—*I see Victor is on page 6. I see Natalie is on question 3*—triggered flashbacks to Miss Jean and Romper Room. All that was missing was the magic mirror. But even this was too much for the NNN squad in the corner. *Drop the ‘I see’* came through my earpiece. All this narration was incredibly distracting for the students, by the way, to the point where they started narrating me. *Mrs. Berard is passing out the exit tickets.* *Mrs. Berard is helping Christian.* *Mrs. Berard is reviewing the answer to question 4*

*Tell them you are like Tom Brady*
The students were also perplexed by my new earpiece accessory. *Um, Miss, what’s that in your ear?* they asked. I looked over to the three adults in the far bill-belichickback corner of the room for my scripted answer. *Tell them you are like Tom Brady. Tom Brady wears an earpiece to be coached remotely and so do you,* was the response. I never would have said that, and mumbled instead *But I’m not Tom Brady. No I’m Tom Brady.* The students, who could hear me, but not what I was hearing through my earpiece, were more confused than ever. At which point I explained to the students that I was being trained by the people in the corner who were telling me what to say via their walkie talkie. I’m all for transparency and simple answers to simple questions.

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

Joyless joy
I struggled to adopt the emotionless monotone that NNN required. I was told that my tone was wrong. My voice was too high, and that I came across as too happy—I smile a lot; I celebrate a lot, including every two weeks when the flowers on my cactus bloom, again. When I asked the NNN trainer to elaborate on what she meant by my tone being off, a critique she delivered just hours after meeting me for the first time, her response included a full blown, and exaggerated, impersonation of me delivered in front of my behavior intervention coach and assistant principal. When her performance was done, the NNN trainer winked at me. *But don’t lose your joy,* she said.

Mountain pose
I was told to stand in mountain pose and not to favor one leg over another. I C-3PO-3was told not to cross my legs. My body language must be in no way casual (or human). And I needed to stop conveying so much excitement at the students’ accomplishments. After one session of C3PO training, I was told that I was too happy that a student had legible writing. I shouldn’t praise basic things that should be expected. Another time I was chastised for pointing out to a child: *Woah, this is great. This is your best work so far this year!*

*Don’t turn*
I felt awful after that critique, like I had let my students down with my excessive enthusiasm. I went back and apologized to them. The student whose handwriting I’d praised said it had made him happy to be complimented. *I didn’t take what you said in a bad way.* *Just be yourself,* another student told me. *Don’t be who that want you to be. Don’t become like the rest.* You see, the students were old enough to see what the school and the trainers wanted the teachers to be and what their teachers were becoming.

They begged me not to turn.

Amy Berard grew up in Lawrence, a half a mile away from the Guilmette Middle School where she taught ELA last year. She was let go at the end of the school year after administrators determined that she was not the *right fit* for Lawrence.

The complement post to this is KIPP charter chain and torture adviser Marty Seligman: A match made in hell?

To follow are comments from the edusyster post.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

OMG, Edushyster, this is about the most horrifying thing you’ve published (and you’ve published a lot of horrifying things.

I’m somewhere between speechless and I could fill 20 volumes, but I’ll limit myself to this for now: There is nothing nurturing about punishment, there is nothing nurturing about being a robot, and there is nothing nurturing about treating all students the same. But I’m sure they all know that, because they’d never treat their own flesh and blood that way.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

OMG is right. Horrifying came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory positive approach into senseless tragedy.

Reply

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being controlled is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

I can imagine these bamboozled teachers narrating the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

Jason Davidson July 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should distance themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

Reply

Sarah Blaine July 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm

This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

Lloyd Lofthouse July 22, 2015 at 6:14 pm

My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book The China Mirage by James Bradley.

http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

Reply

Steve Lee July 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 6:28 pm

In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling no nonsense nurturin and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

Reply

Mary July 22, 2015 at 6:58 pm

This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this

    1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      OMG is right. “Horrifying” came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory’s positive approach into senseless tragedy.

      Reply

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

    Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

    In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being “controlled” is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

    Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

    I can imagine these bamboozled teachers “narrating” the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

      1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

  • As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should ‘distance’ themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

    Reply

  • This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

    Reply

  • My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book “The China Mirage” by James Bradley.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

    Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

    Reply

  • Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

    On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

    “As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant”

  • In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling “no nonsense nurturing” and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

  • This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students’ work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

    Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this?

    -Submitted by Dora Taylor

20 comments on “KIPP charter schools and the behavior modification of…teachers

  1. Pingback: Students Are Children, Not Statistics

  2. zcwubbena
    August 16, 2015

    Reblogged this on zane c. wubbena.

  3. Paul Grajnert
    August 9, 2015

    This is corporate discipline.

  4. catherine
    July 24, 2015

    I’m so disgusted!! I think that is the dumbest thing I have ever seen!! Please don’t treat your kids and teachers like robots!! I would take my child out and home school them! I would love to see how they teach music! In a monotone voice the teacher would tell the student they played the wrong note!! HAHA!! NOT!!

  5. Zorba
    July 24, 2015

    Reblogged this on Politicians Are Poody Heads.

  6. Denise
    July 23, 2015

    What in the world is education coming to? Where in the world are these idiotic ideas creeping in from? I will quit a career that I am proud of, if this were to EVER “infect” my school! Teaching IS a passion! Learning is a passion! This is like taking the stars from astronomers and still expect them to do their job!!! RIDICULOUS! I hope and pray that parents learn that they MUST come together and rid our schools of anything that interferes with their children learning (i.e this topic) and anything that creates an unsafe, attacking environment (i.e. policies and laws that over-step their boundaries into family and parental rights). It is time for parents to take the helm on their children’s education! The schools work for the parents and the children; certainly NOT the opposite! With this said, there is not one common sense parent who would even come close to wanting their child to be educated in this manner.

  7. seattleducation2010
    July 23, 2015

    I believe Alan Levin has children. I wonder, if they are school-aged, if they go to KIPP.

  8. Joe Nashville
    July 23, 2015

    No-nonsense? The program IS nonsense. This is beyond radical behaviorism.

    • seattleducation2010
      July 23, 2015

      What would you call it?

      • Joe Nashville
        July 23, 2015

        Nonsense.

      • seattleducation2010
        July 23, 2015

        Lol! Yes, ridiculous, nonsense. You can’t make this stuff up. If it was produced for TV it would be considered satire or a comedy with Julia Dreyfus and Tina Fey sitting in the corner trying to figure out what to say next into the microphone.

        Unfortunately it’s not so funny because it is a waste of the students’ time, they will never be able to regain this time in the classroom. It’s gone. And for the teachers, it’s the perfect way to get rid of dedicated, talented educators.

  9. Stan Risdon
    July 23, 2015

    Won’t it be easier to just drug the students? Stepford teachers = Stepford students!

    • seattleducation2010
      July 23, 2015

      Ya know, I don’t doubt that someone has thought of doing that.

      At this point, nothing would surprise me with these folks.

      Just take the money from the school districts and drug the kids. How easy would that be?!

  10. Jeffrey
    July 23, 2015

    I have a question. Why the upbeat music and all the body language in the video “to sell” this teaching method? Especially if the teachers aren’t supposed to show this much animation while using it.

  11. papercapers
    July 23, 2015

    This approach aims to make students compliant. As a teacher I strive t inspire.

  12. Anonymous
    July 23, 2015

    Another ridiculous method that that disrespects both teacher and students

  13. Mike Silvia
    July 23, 2015

    Disturbing, to say the least.

  14. Greg
    July 22, 2015

    My soul died while reading this.

    • Kelley
      July 22, 2015

      All those souls in those classrooms are dying.

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