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Monday, February 10, 2014

Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers From Rookies to Veterans by Rafe Esquith



Release Date - July 2013

Rafe Esquith
Viking

I'd say give this man an award, but he already has several. Therefore, I say PLEASE put Rafe Esquith in charge of turning the nation's schools, and some teachers, around. I started reading Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers From Rookies to Veterans figuring it would take me time to work my way through it. Instead, I became so engrossed with all Mr. Esquith had to say that I ended up forgoing household chores in order to keep reading.

What drew me in? That is so easy, he starts talking about a teacher who is planning to take his students to Washington D.C., gained the necessary permission from the district and parents, only to have that trip yanked because of one idiotic official shortly before the trip took place. It's maddening.

The same thing happened to my son's AP Physics class. Their teacher received permission to take his class to a local shooting range with the school's police officer. They would use their knowledge of physics to measure the velocity of bullets fired by the officer. Students were excited, parents were fine with it, the officer happily agreed to donate his time, so the principal gave his okay. A couple months prior to the trip,  the principal suddenly announced that the trip was off until the class raised the money themselves. The teacher knew of a number of classroom supplies that had not been used in more than five years and asked for permission from the department head to sell them to raise cash for the trip. A month later he was charged with embezzling school supplies and fired on the spot. With a month to go before AP exams, the students had no learned everything that would be on the test, and the school's substitute didn't know enough about physics to teach them. As a result, half of the class failed that test. It's a good thing these kids were seniors, because all of them last respect for the school principal and stopped caring about the school after that. Once you've lost your students' respect, you've lost the chance to reach them.

This is only one of the many illustrations found within the book. I've seen the changes to the education system over the decades, and it scares me. I've argued countless hours with teachers who have told me they do not need to correct my daughter's grammar and spelling because spellcheck does it for her. A child should NOT be getting an A+ on papers where she cannot use "their," "they're," and "there" correctly. I had to drill grammar into her because no other teacher would.

By the time I completed Real Talk for Real Teachers, I had decided three things. First, any college student going for a teaching degree should be required to read this book. Second, every teacher currently working in a school should also be required to read this book. Third, every parent should have to read this. It's that good and sends a powerful message that I, as a parent, want teachers to know.

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