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The Artistry of Teaching

Matthew Kay of Lesson Plans—a new group of teacher blogs hosted by the New York Times—teaches at a successful high school in Philadelphia that has figured out a way to deal with the common problem of teacher retention that many urban schools face and a way to get the students excited about school.

As I write this, student laughter is floating up from our café — late on a Friday afternoon. Some have stepped out to get Chinese, and now they are back — to hang out with teachers in the principal’s office. Given every opportunity to leave, both our educators and students regularly decide to stay.

Kay says the key to his success with his students and the school’s success with its teachers comes from the freedom to teach how he wants to teach.

If I hadn’t been allowed to be an artist in the classroom, if my curriculum had been some stranger’s standardized script, [Kay’s students] may not have found their voices … If we want to convince dynamic, young educators to choose the inner city as the place to master their craft — we’ve got to remember that the best are artists.
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