Meet Ed Helper

The principal pulls me aside and says, "Hey Techno-Tommy, we have this new aid who will be going to your class.  He's an excellent resource.  His name is Ed Helper.  Nice guy. You'll enjoy working with him."

He's nice and he's pleasant and I don't doubt that he makes my job easier.  For a half an hour, he passes out various worksheets (emphasis on the word "work" rather than "learn").  The students do not particularly like him, despite his little school bus badge he wears and his generally happy demeanor.  He's nice, perhaps too nice.  A man of many cardigans.  A decent chap who I wouldn't mind meeting at a cocktail party.

I just don't think the kids are learning from his intervention.  Sure, they read a worksheet and yes, they use a pencil.  But it's not real.  It's not relevant.  It's not provocative and thus, it's not thought-provoking.  It's imitation meat, like calling SPAM a steak (and while canned meat is all the rage in this early industrial era, I have a hunch we'll someday use it as a pejorative term for unwanted information).

And the biggest reason is that Ed Helper doesn't know my students as well as I do.  Ultimately, that's what it's about.  Teaching is a relational gig and as long as people outsource it to guys like Ed, the students will suffer.


  1. Lots of teachers use Mr Ed Helper. . its easy and quick, but at the end of the day, like the book says, worksheets don't help grow dendrites

  2. Right on! Relationships. I can't preach that enough. If you build the relationships, then you will be successful. Teachers that don't have a positive relationship with the students will, almost certainly, be ineffective.

    One the best teachers I know is the most strict. However, her students know that she loves them and will do just about anything for them. They are making huge gains this year.

    Great Post!