TO: Tony Gross, Bethel HS, Frank Acojido, Hogan HS, Phil Saroyan, Vallejo HS
FROM: Van Sloan
DATE: June 3, 1999
RE: Skills of Phillip Shelley
Recently I shared three periods in a Bethel classroom with Phillip Shelley, a substitute teacher. Phillip's classroom style impressed me, leading me to realize that the school which is able to recruit him will be fortunate indeed.
In addition to the usual opinions given in a recommendation note, I can offer documentary proof of Phillip's ability to empathize with students. As described in the attached article, I ask students to rate classmates on their potential as sales clerks. Usually, the teacher and I make similar ratings. Good teachers who know their classes well typically mark their students quite similarly to the way the students mark each other. The sheet "Ability to Predict SQ" gives some useful baseline numbers on teacher and observer correlations. Observers who don't know the students (such as myself, Mr. Ellis of Target, and Phillip Shelley) make survey marks based just on first impressions. Phillip's correlation scores were 0.40, 0.48, and 0.59 - all very high for one who did not know the students. His marks were higher than those of several regular teachers, who evidently did not have as much a feel for the social dynamics of their classes as did Mr. Shelley in the role of a sub.
Perhaps because of Phillip's ability to understand the students, I noted that they paid particular attention when he spoke and that classroom control was never a problem. As a young, male, and non-white individual, Mr. Shelley has the physical characteristics that can provide instant rapport with many Vallejo students. He also brings the advantages of being raised in Vallejo and of having worked full time outside of education. But all of these plus factors pale in comparison to his genuine interest in the kids. Phillip believes in a coaching model of teaching, concerned with the individual differences and needs of each student.
If your school isn't able to get Phillip to join your staff, let me suggest a possible alternative: Mr. Ellis of Target (his picture is in the news article). Ellis has the classroom charisma of Phillip Shelley and is thinking of making a career shift into teaching.
cc Phillip Shelley, Joan Barker, Marsharon Ellis
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