Friday, November 13, 2009

So You Want to Be a Teacher by Ben Gorden with a giveaway

Ever wonder what teachers think? I mean what they really think.

I grew up in a small town. Many of you would consider 5,000 or even 10,000 small, but I am talking about TINY. The population sign in my town said 153. Many of us actually lived outside the "city limits" on farms. I had 18 people in my graduating class. Ok, you get the idea. It isn't often that any of the people in the town are selling a book on Amazon. I was super excited when my 5th grade teacher announced on Facebook that her husband, my middle school and high school science teacher, Ben Gorden has finally finished the book he threatened us all with over the years. Then, because she is a follower of my blog she sent me an autographed copy to read and review. Score! Here are my totally unbiased thoughts (ok, probably not unbiased).

I wouldn't call So You Wanna Be a Teacher a novel. It is more a 60 page collection of one to two page essays that tell a story and teach a lesson. I loved every minute of it! I know that I recognized at least one story as something that happened to my high school classmates and it made me laugh out loud. Honestly, though I think the story I am referring to would make anyone gasp and then laugh. Buy the book (shameless plug) and you will know exactly which story I am referring to. Mr. Gorden was always funny, but sometimes it was a dry sense of humor that you had to catch on to if you really wanted to enjoy what he was saying. His book is that way as well. You read some of the stories and think they couldn't possibly be true, but trust me they are. He tells it like he sees it.

What I really loved, though, was that he took all of these stories and turned them into some really great lessons for teachers. I, not being a teacher, even got some good information out of it. I also liked the feeling of being in my teacher's head. While teaching these lessons he never, never lost himself. He shined through in this book, and you knew that he meant every word he said.

You really don't have to be a teacher to enjoy this book. It makes a point and you find yourself shaking your head yes or going I never thought of that, but he is totally right. It makes you remember what you wanted in a teacher. I was lucky enough to have several teachers who seemed to "get it". Many of us don't give enough credit to our teachers or our children's teachers, and this book makes you think about all they go through and respect those that are getting it right even more.

Here are some Chapter titles:

Fear Factor

What's In A Name?

The Magic Answer

Rocking the Boat

Here are a couple of quotes:

"If you want kids to act like idiots, treat them like idiots."

"Too many teachers do not know themselves, understand their role in society or have a clue as to what they are trying to accomplish as an educator. Unless you understand yourself, know what you are about and know the direction you are going; it's difficult to direct students."

"As you can see there is no bigger challenge than becoming a teacher. Nothing more rewarding. Nothing more exhausting, nothing more vitally important to the students, the community, the nation and the WORLD!"

Ok, I have to forewarn you about a couple of things in the book. First, some of you might find a couple of stories to be crude. Unfortunately, sometimes occurrences in a teacher's life can be crude -you are with kids all day - and so you will read about it in the book. Sometimes, those moments help prove an important point or teach a lesson. Secondly, there is a story in So You Want to Be a Teacher about physical punishment. Many of you may adamantly disagree with this chapter. I don't think I would be wrong in suggesting that Mr. Gorden would say he is sorry you are offended, but he wrote what he believes to be true. Keep in mind that where I grew up and went to school you could be paddled in the office for your behavior. Mr. Gorden grew up there and taught in that school. I completely get his chapter on physical contact so it didn't offend me, but I didn't want any of you to be surprised if you read the book.

So, overall, my view is this... This is a great collection of short essays that takes real teacher/student or teacher/administration occurrences and reminds or educates a teacher how to be better at what they do. It reminds them of their importance and shoots straight about what being a teacher is all about.

Two lucky readers can win an autographed copy of So You Want to Be a Teacher for themselves. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me if you think any specific teacher helped shape who you are today. Like it or not they all influenced you in some way, but did any stand out to you? Are there any you still think of fondly?

I will run this contest until December 13th. It is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada only.


  1. OMG, talk about small towns! I thought mine was tiny, but I think there were 1000 people. We had 80 in our graduating class.

    When I think of my teachers, I remember Mr. Clear, who had a sardonic wit that sometimes felt hurtful...but he was truly inspirational and encouraged my writing.

  2. I still think of my grade one teacher Mrs. Stoneman who took me under her wing after I moved to her class from a different school. She went out of her way to make me feel comfortable.

    simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

  3. I had a series of wonderful teachers at my small school growing up. There were so many who made such an impact on me. The one that sticks out the most was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Suzanne Sprehe. She recently passed away and my heart is still sad to know that one of the greatest teachers in the world is no longer here. I try to emulate her teaching each day in my professional teaching career.


  4. Allison, You did a great job on the review. Ben has really enjoyed his little venture. He chuckled at how professional you make his book sound. I am always in awe when I check your blog. You are a truly gifted writer.

  5. I grew up in a small farming town. Small enough that I had all of my father's teachers. They had great expectations for me. The teacher who affected me the most was my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Dickover. She encouraged all students and for me, made learning fun. She is the reason I am a teacher today. I look forward to reading his book whether I win a copy or not.

  6. I had an 8th grade English teacher who loved my compositions. She made me feel like I could be a writer some day. And today, I am.
    Please enter me. I enjoyed reading your review.

  7. The name of my favourite teacher (many years ago) was Dawn. She had some interests that got me so excited and I've since developed some of those same interests because of her inspiration. I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks. wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. This sounds like a great read. Please enter me.
    One of my favourite teachers was Mr. C. In 7th and 8th grade. He was great. He had a way of making each one of us feel like we were the best student to have in your class, like each one of us was his favourite. He He was so easy going, and friendly, and still is! I actually ran into him over 10 years later. I was at my daughter's school waiting to speak to the principal and I heard someone call my name (Lu- only friends call me that Mr. C was the only "adult" that ever did until we became adults!)and was so happy to discover Mr. C standing there! We have kept in contact through email since.
    lovemykidsandbooks @ gmail .com

  9. Hi, just popping in to wish you and your family a most happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day!

  10. How fun to know an author of a book like this! I, too, feel like I was pretty lucky with the run of teachers that I had. I had a lot of "favorite" teachers, but if I had to pick one it would probably be my high school French teacher. He came to us from the Air Force Academy, so I was scared to death that he was going to be a tyrant; but he was this really cool guy who was enthusiastic about what he was doing, wasn't afraid to talk to students like they were adults (or like he at least believed we were going to make it there someday!), he was strict but he was also sympathetic. When my parents were getting a divorce, he was the one teacher who pulled me aside after class and said, Hey, are you OK? Is there something going on? You don't seem like your normal self. It was a great relief to have an adult outside of the situation to talk to and to say that really sucks; I'm sorry.