Teachers in the Media: The Master Teacher is the collaborate work of Jennifer Daniels and Dawn Knight for EDUC 515 - Effective Teaching in a Diverse Envirornment. Ad-Block Plus for your browser of choice is highly recommended for optimal usage of this project (and everything else).
Stand and Deliver (1988) is the story of high school math teacher Jaime "Kemo" Escalante. Because the administration at Garfield High School (located in East Los Angeles) has low expectations of lower-class Hispanic students, Escalante has to fight for permission to teach AP Calculus. Though the majority of his students have little to no proficiently in even basic math, Escalante is able to improve their skills tremendously, bringing them up to AP levels by the time they graduate.
Cinematic Commentary of Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities of a Teacher
Domain I: Designing Instruction and Assessment to Promote Student Learning
Having brought his students up from basic math to algebra, Escalante has confidence that they now have the ability to learn calculus. He challenges the disbelieving students to take the AP calculus exam to earn credit for college - a goal most of them haven't even considered. Escalante regularly gives his students encouragement and drive (ganas) that they need to accomplish what he knows they will excel too. He does this by challenging the students to reject the stereotype that Garfield High students are destined to do nothing but gangbang or get pregnant. Escalante regularly reminds the students that they have the power to move beyond their circumstances, but they will need a good education to do so. Though all of the children are lower class (many even have after-school jobs that are threatened with Escalante's mandatory after-school hours and Saturday classes), they eventally go on to have as much confidence in themselves as Escalante has in them.
Escalante exemplifies Domain I in knowing that his students are capable, acknowledging (as opposed to ignoring) what backgrounds the students come from, and knowing what his students need to achieve the goals set before them. He is realistic and honest with his students in the amount of effort and hard work it will take for them to learn what he is teaching, but has unwavering belief in them, even when others tell him it can’t be done.
Domain II: Creating a Positive, Productive Class Environment
Escalante has successfully created a community within his classroom of disenfranchised students. Students are not afraid to be wrong and when they are he lovingly jokes with them and moves on to the next person. He has made a safe classroom where all answers are valued in the quest for knowledge. He tells the administration that they know not what they know and continues seeking the correct answer to the problem. When Ana walks into the classroom with the correct answer, all applaud her. His drive for them to attain excellence equates to excellence, giving all teachers something to think about. If a teacher believes the students are capable, explicitly communicates the expectations, teaches from the heart and gives the students drive, they will arise to meet their teacher’s level of standards.
Domain III: Implementing Effective, Responsive Instruction and Assessment
Escalante never portrayed his class was going to be easy. Within the first few days, he gave the students a timed ten minute quiz, informing that this would be a weekly requirement. While not met with applause, this testing method not only helped his students, but honed his own skills on how his students progressed and what he needed to readdress. In turn, Escalante was able to hone his approach/technique to ensure that the students learned the material taught.
That Escalante's methods and techniques were the right ones for all involved is best demonstrated in the Domain III clip. A few students decided to protest the test by sitting it out, but only Lupe Escobar went through with the threat. Not only was she the only one to refuse to take the test, she was openly ridiculed by the other students for doing so. The work was not easy and students missed out on many extracurricular activities due to Saturday school and extra hours after school. However, their academic successes were undeniable, and the class's rejection of Lupe's antics arguably stand as the most effective response to Escalante's teaching.
Domain IV: Fulfilling Professional Roles & Responsibilities
Escalante and his wife go to visit Ana’s father. Mr. Delgado owns a local Mexican restaurant. He expects Tina to drop out of high school and work as a waitress, as his wife and other daughter also work there. While Jaime openly admires Mr. Delgado’s entrepreneurship and family spirit, he points out that Ana could bring more to the table as a college graduate than a college dropout (as evidenced by the faulty math in the bill handed to the Escalantes.) Escalante is angrily dismissed from the restaurant. However, the next scene (shown in Domain II) shows that Escalante’s words have reached Tina’s father, as she is back in school the following day.
Conclusion: What makes a master teacher?
From the first day, Jaime Escalante expected excellence from his students. He believed that every one of them had the potential to succeed, allowing them to move beyond their circumstances. He inspired and related his subject content (math) to the real world. Escalante helped his students - and their families - to envision going to college and to work towards this goal. He was able to differentiate the needs of his students and to act accordingly to ensure their continued success.
Even in the midst of adversity, including a heart attack, Escalante pressed on for his students, never wavering in his faith of his students and their abilities. By giving his all at all times, Escalante exemplified the role of Master Teacher.