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:
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.