Trivia question: in which war was the main strategy to "annoy" the other side?
Answer: the Utah War of 1857. From Wiki:
From 1857 to 1858, the President James Buchanan administration sought to quell a supposed rebellion in Utah Territory by Mormon settlers. He sent US forces there, in what was known as the Utah Expedition. The Mormons, fearful that the large US military force had been sent to annihilate them, made preparations for defense. Though bloodshed was to be avoided, and the U.S. government also hoped that its purpose might be attained without the loss of life, preparations were made for war. Fire-arms were manufactured or repaired by the Mormons, scythes were turned into bayonets, and long-unused sabres were burnished and sharpened.
Rather than engaging the enemy directly, Mormon strategy was one of hindering and weakening them. Daniel H. Wells, lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo legion, instructed Major Joseph Taylor, "On ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and set fire to their trains.
Luckily, Tom Kane was there to help. The Harvard economist who currently leads the Measures of Effective Teaching Project? No, a different one. The guy on the left.
Fortunately, the lull in hostilities during the winter provided an opportunity for negotiations, and direct confrontation was avoided. As early as August 1857, Brigham Young had written to Thomas L. Kane of Pennsylvania asking for help. Kane was a man of some political prominence who had been helpful to the Mormons in their westward migration and later political controversies.
Direct confrontation was avoided. Mostly annoyance! Now some might say: that is precisely the strategy of certain middle and high school students when faced with "invasion" by a rookie teacher. Luckily, teachers are well prepared for this predictable tactic. Oh, wait.
Mary McConnell is a Salt Lake City teacher, former Rhodes Scholar, 2004 Salt Lake Diocesan Teacher of the Year, and blogger. McConnell describe her experience with teacher prep (which I read via the NCTQ blog):
...Let me share my own experience with teacher preparation, which is just that — my own experience. My first and extraordinarily unrepresentative teaching experience was a single International Baccalaureate history class at West High School: a twentieth century history course that demanded the kind of content-rich, historiograpically-sophisticated preparation that I had received in my undergraduate and graduate education (six years that included not a single education course.) The students in my class were extremely bright and, for the most part, academically ambitious.
The ease and pleasure of teaching this group fooled me into thinking that I knew how to manage a classroom. I assure you that I was disabused of this notion as soon as I became a full-time teacher.
So what helped? She continues:
I found that almost all of the educational theory classes I took were too general and too ideological to help me improve my classroom . . . something that in my first and second years of full-time teaching I was quite desperate to do.
The one outstanding exception among my alternative certification courses was a one-week intensive course in social studies teaching methods offered by the Utah State Office of Education. This was the only course that wasn't taught by an education professor; instead, it was taught by two experienced Jordan school district middle school teachers. I still have the entire legal pad I filled with notes from this wonderful course, which presented any number of creative and practical ideas for engaging students.
McConnell describes this carefully as simply her own personal experience. But I've argued, and continue to claim, that her experience is typical for rookie teachers who work with the kids who have not previously had much academic success.
Remember, this is now empirically supported by clean-shaven Tom Kane's MET research. Classroom management seems to trump all other things. Rookie teaches gotta expect the military strategy of "annoyance," and prepare accordingly.
I've also argued that McConnell's personal experience -- valuing what she learns from working schoolteachers over what she valued from professors -- is not unusual, and may (hard to know) even be the norm.