What does Tony Danza know about education?!

As an actor, Tony Danza had conquered nearly every entertainment realm—TV, the movies, even Broadway—when one day three years ago, he felt a powerful urge to chase a childhood dream and become a teacher. He’d been inspired by a documentary made by Teach for America, the organization that trains college graduates to teach in rural and urban public schools, and he wanted to give something back. After dazzling viewers of such hit TV shows as Taxi and Who’s the Boss? and delighting Broadway audiences, he figured that, even with his lack of teaching experience, he still stood a good chance of keeping a classroom of high school kids engaged. How hard could it be?

As he found out, really hard. Entering Philadelphia’s Northeast High School’s crowded halls in September 2009, Tony found his way to a tenth-grade classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack.

In his new book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High,Tony shares experiences that ranged from the infuriating to the deeply rewarding as he relives the amazing story of what happened. In his tenure at Northeast High Tony did it all, teaching Shakespeare, working detention, assisting the music and drama departments, coaching football, and helping a special group of young people through some of the most daunting personal and emotional issues.

We invite you to watch Tony’s message to educators on his site, TonyDanza.com, where you can also find more information about the book and his upcoming events.

Click here to read a conversation with Tony Danza and Erin Gruwell, author of The Freedom Writers Diary.

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Not Quite Adults by Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray

by Richard Settersten, co-author of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone (Bantam, 2010)

One of the inescapable burdens of being an educator relates to this simple truth: We grow older, but our students are forever young. Yet, as new students file into our classrooms each year, we’re aware of a complementary truth: Just because our students are always young doesn’t mean they’re always the same. Recent years have brought a seismic shift in the kinds of students we face.

Anchored in nearly a decade of collaborative research conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists assembled by the MacArthur Foundation (myself included), Not Quite Adults provides an intimate look at today’s young people.

Writing this book with my co-author, Barbara Ray, has changed how I teach and relate to my college students. Here are a few lessons that will be helpful for high school teachers, too: (more…)