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The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle Paperback – September 1, 2011
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“An appealing and sympathetic figure with a seemingly genuine talent for teaching.” (The New York Times)
About the Author
Dan Brown is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. A blogger for the Huffington Post, he currently teaches high school English at a charter school and lives in Washington, D.C.
Randi Weingarten is an American labor leader, attorney, educator, and is currently the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Before holding that office, she was the former president the United Federation of Teachers. New York magazine called her one of the most influential people in education in New York State. She currently resides in New York City.
Top customer reviews
So the real question is, is this Dan Brown a better writer than Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame? Only time will tell, but the new Dan Brown is off to a fine start.
I don't care much for "teacher books" because they're often just self-congratulatory exercises that end up making teachers feel less-than. They're often written by teachers with multiple years of experience and they focus on the successes without acknowledging the incredibly difficult aspects of the profession.
Brown isn't focused on making himself look like Super-Teacher. He takes the reader into a classroom full of students who defy each and every attempt at clasroom management. He freely admits that he's at the end of his rope and has no idea what to do. Brown introduces his students and describes their antics in full-color. He also describes an administration working against him most of the time. This is exemplefied by an adminstrator who constantly threatens his job based on his bulletin boards. He comes to find out that his classroom was intentionally seeded with the most hard-to-manage group of students because the principal had it in for the teacher who was supposed to get the class before Brown came on the scene.
As a new teacher myself, I very much enjoyed Brown's realistic description of the life of a first-year teacher in a low socio-economic school. Brown not only discusses his group of students, but the difficulties of his fellow teachers as they worked for an administration and a district that all too often seemed to be dead set on working against the teachers.
I'd say this should be required reading for students in the Education field, but that might scare some of them away from the profession.
The resulting story is a better read and far more helpful than other first-year teacher memoirs. Some scenes reminded me so much of my own first year I felt them in my stomach.
Brown covers his entire first year, beginning with the hiring process. In telling his own story, he illustrates almost every issue that can set well-meaning teachers up for failure: Abusive nit-picking of administrators. Test pressure. The inexcusable practice of creating a "dumping ground" classroom and assigning it to an unsuspecting new teacher. It takes courage to be honest about one's own non-heroic moments, but the end result is a book that, in the right hands, could genuinely impact the policies that chase good people out of teaching. I would recommend this to any administrator or educational policy-maker, and anyone looking for a well-written, honest teacher story.