New Teachers: Read These Insider Secrets!
See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers
By Roxanna Elden
(Kaplan Publishing, 2011 – Learn more)
I remember getting hired as a first-year teacher just days before the school year started and completely freaking out. Along with planning what I might be doing in those first days of school (that’s about as far as I could see, to be honest), I gobbled up the classic The First Days of School by Harry Wong in hopes that some of his magic would rub off on me.
While I devoured Wong’s book (pulling it out every August for the first few years of teaching before finally handing it off as a gift to a colleague just starting out), Roxanna Elden’s See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers would have been a nice companion text.
Infused with Elden’s humorous insights and featuring anecdotes from a multitude of veteran teachers reflecting on the good, the bad, and the embarrassing sides of the teaching life, this book offers up some advice in a handy format of short narratives, helpful tables and easy-to-navigate bulleted points.
I suspect that new teachers will read the book quite differently than veteran teachers. I found myself shaking my head in acknowledgement of the stories of other teachers, remembering that boy who refused to learn for most of the year, and the surprise visit by an administrator on a day when the lesson fell apart, and the words slipping off your tongue in a moment of emotion that you wish you could just take back. I also remember that girl that I reached that year when I thought all of my tricks had failed, and that comment from a parent thanking me for my work with their child. The value for a veteran teacher here is the realization that we are not alone.
Not even close.
For new teachers, Elden’s book is a valuable insider’s look into navigating the school environment – from dealing with parents, to paying attention to the politics of the administration (and colleagues), to remembering that one of the tenets of teaching is that the next day is a new day, and that can be a good thing. Elden wisely reminds principals, too, that they have an obligation to nurture and support and to have realistic expectations of new teachers.
In fact, a nice welcome gift for any brave soul dipping their toes into the classroom might be See Me After Class, partnered up with Wong’s The First Days of School. It could be one of those gestures that keeps a new teacher sane, and in the classroom, for another year.
Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher in Southampton, Massachusetts, and is the technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. Kevin blogs regularly at Kevin’s Meandering Mind and tweets more often than is healthy under his @dogtrax handle.