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Carolyn Bucior's first book, "Sub Culture: Three Years in Education's Dustiest Corner," was named by "Time" magazine as one of the summer's best education reads (2011) and named one of the best education books of 2011 by the "American School Board Journal."
Looking for a mid-life challenge and soon to be remarried, Bucior begins to substitute teach. We follow her for three years on the job as she exposes the costly, dysfunctional and dangerous world of substitute teaching; meanwhile, back home, she struggles to accept her new husband's decorating choices.
Bucior is a "Huffington Post" blogger and has written features, humor and op-eds that have appeared in the "New York Times," "Chicago Tribune" and "Milwaukee Magazine." She has won two first-place feature-writing awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
I shouldn't be too harsh on this book - it's a memoir, which means it's not required to be accurate and is intended to be more an author's reflection upon a period in her life. However, I bought this book because I am a novice teacher and the blurb said something about her learning some classroom management tips. It also said this was a funny book. There were precisely two classroom tips in the book and it wasn't really funny. I could tell the places it was supposed to be funny and I enjoy pratfall humor as much as the next person, but she's just not a comedic writer. (The classroom management tips involved holding a clipboard and whispering instructions, both of which I already knew.)
Here's my main problems with it, though: she's a journalist, so she's not required *at all* to be thorough with her sources. If you read the book carefully, you will see where she stresses some statistic and then explains (usually in one area only, though she'll reuse the same stats over and over) how that statistic might be excused. Like, OMG! *5.4% of teachers are absent at any given time* and *your child will spend up to a year being taught by a substitute teacher!!!* added to *all you need is a pulse to be a sub!!!* She adds that to some scathing thing about how teachers work only 180 days of the year, whereas everyone else works more yadda yadda yadda. I can kind of forgive her for that one because she's totally unaware of the summer I'm working - unpaid - to put my classroom together. HOWEVER, only once does she grudgingly say that some of this absenteeism is due to, say, maternity leave and actual illness.Read more ›
This is just one more thinly disguised attack on teachers from someone who admitted repeatedly that she didn't answer the phone when the sub coordinator called on a regular basis. It was just too much for her to show up in a classroom (where the only responsiblity she had was making sure that no one was hurt) for two days a week consistently for any period of time.
After I left a manufacturing management job for a Fortune 50 company, I subbed for a year, before completing 15 years in the classroom. During my time subbing, I was left good lesson plans and bad. Because I want my students to continually move forward and I respect my subs, I try to always leave clear lesson plans for whomever has to replace me.
It is the 2nd week in August as I write this review, I am "enjoying the copious amounts of time off "that Bucior claims that teacher's have each year. In addition to reading this book, because I spend my summer's reading educational policy books, I completely revised a 250 page lab manual and delivered it to a printer this week. I moved all of the furniture in my classroom , including 21 slate top lab tables. I also re-networked my 20 classroom computers, a job I have to do every summer. I SHOULD NOT HAVE WASTED MY TIME WITH BUCIOR'S BOOK. In addition to repeating the same few statistics and anecdotes over and over, she whined about her remarriage and mid-life crisis, as if someone in the midst of a stressful, time-consuming job could possibly care. Although, I admit that I might have not been so opposed to this whining had the book clearly advertised it.
As a parent and a teacher, I am concerned about the quality of education EVERY DAY, including the days when there are subs.Read more ›
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After reading a glowing review in a newspaper (although it happens that it was one she is associated with) I was excited to order this book. It turned out to be a disappointing bit of fluff. The statistics are thrown around like they are meaningful, and although a memoir of sorts, the premise is not about subbing, but about blasting the teachers who are in the trenches, ones to the best of my knowledge she never really met. The opening anecdote was humorous, but it was downhill from there. The absent teacher's instructions were certainly disorganized, but the more I read, the more I was able to identify with the unfortunate classroom teacher that would have to deal the aftermath of having such a apathetic sub! As the book continued to strike out at teachers for being absent, I had to fight the urge to become defensive until I finished the book. I kept waiting for the "aha" moment, but it never really happened. It just ended, no resolution. A summary follows: She wanted to make more money, thought subbing would be okay, found out teachers miss a lot of work, tried to sub, it was hard, decided not to do it anymore. We all know that statistics can be manipulated into whatever one desires, but this personal account should have left them out completely and relied on the author's ability to tell a good story. IF this was meant to be an informative book, then it missed the boat completely by simply grabbing at token numbers. Repeated generalizations that quickly appeared seemed to be solely for sensation, not for examination. Factiods are welcome in this fast tracked world, but these were so isolated from scrutiny by the author that any credibility of actually enlightening us was lost.Read more ›
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