The Family Excerpt Three

I have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful family. When it came time to finally put

words to paper, I couldn’t leave them out, in fact, they all became fair game.


The following is an excerpt from my new book…




The “My Brother Charles Test”


When I observe a lesson, I always use the “My Brother Charles Test” or the “MBC Test” as it is affectionately known, to see if the teacher is teaching the lesson or teaching the students or neither. My brother Charles is a good guy. He is a good Catholic and has a nice family. He has a beautiful wife, Joyce, and two incredible daughters, my beloved nieces, Emily and Sarah. My brother Charles even has a dog, a Chihuahua mix adopted from the pound who my niece, Emily, named Amigo because she wanted him to know she was his friend and she was convinced that he only spoke Spanish. As you can see, my brother Charles has his hands full and he is many things. The one thing my brother Charles absolutely is not, is a teacher.

My brother Charles doesn’t work with teachers, day in and day out, and have the opportunity to learn from them. He does not have specific work days set aside during which he has the opportunity to participate in professional development days designed to make him a better teacher. He does not have the opportunity to listen to speakers, nor attend conferences which are designed to make him a better teacher. His boss, whom he sees every day, is not an educational leader who was once a teacher and so is filled with knowledge and experience relating to education. My brother Charles did not go to college to become a teacher. He has never taken a college course pertaining to education, pedagogy, teaching or learning. He has never taken a praxis test. My brother Charles is many things and he is very good at what he does, but he is not a teacher.


The “My Brother Charles Test” or “MBC Test” is really quite simple. It begins with me looking at the lesson plan and asking one question,

“Could my brother Charles teach this lesson?”

If my brother Charles could teach this lesson and he is not a teacher than based on this lesson plan, neither are you.


Yes, this statement is harsh but don’t we need to be harsh with teachers who are not teaching? You have to be harsh when the future of so many students is at stake. The individual talent of each teacher is more essential to the foundation of a school than bricks and mortar and a teacher who isn’t teaching should be ridden out of town on a rail.

Scenario One


The teacher will distribute a worksheet and tell the students to complete what they can and do the rest for homework.


My brother can hand out a worksheet.


Scenario one fails the “MBC Test.”

Scenario Two


Teacher will introduce the class to “insert content here.” Teacher will have the students complete three practice questions and then the students will work independently.



My brother could introduce the class to the content. The content has to be grade twelve or below and my brother attended all twelve grades. He can go over practice questions and sit at the desk or stroll the aisles while the students work.


Scenario two fails the “MBC Test.”



My brother Charles, who has never taken an education course, could execute this plan with little to no difficulty and if he can successfully deliver the lesson and he is not a teacher than the person who delivers this lesson is not actually teaching. This is why so many children with special needs are struggling in our classrooms. No child needs a teacher more than a student with a special need needs a teacher.


The “MBC Test” is not meant to insult teachers. The test is intended to remind us of the difference between what I call “teachers of delivery” (Veras) and “teachers of talent” (Marthas). It also reminds us of how much “teachers of talent” are actually expected to do. My brother Charles would enter a classroom and think: “I need to say this and read that and pass this out and collect that.”

A “teacher of talent” thinks:

I need to frontload the lesson for those with a non-verbal learning disorder, use questioning techniques that provide “wait time” for students with auditory processing disorder, give students who struggle with written expression the opportunity to discuss the assignment in a small group and provide those who struggle with verbal expression an assignment to be completed at the board. Dale, with ADHD, needs graphic organizers and a stress ball and needs to sit in the back. Charlotte, with Dyslexia, needs the headphones to listen to the assignment I put on tape for her. Marie, with Dysgraphia, needs to use the ergo pen I ordered on line. I need to give the additional essay questions I created to Janice, who will finish early because she is gifted and give the same essay questions to Mary in her “special purple folder” because Mary is not only gifted, she has Asperger’s.”

My brother Charles has absolutely no idea how to do any of that.


The “My Brother Charles Test” demonstrates that a “teacher of talent” is more essential to the foundation of a school than bricks and mortar and a “teacher of delivery” is not truly teaching at all. Sadly, many lessons fail the “MBC Test” and this is one of the reasons why so many children with special needs are struggling in our classrooms. Although no child needs a “teacher of talent” more than a student who is struggling, every student deserves for a true teacher to be in the classroom and for my brother Charles, to be somewhere else.


Comments are closed.