Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Reluctant Disciplinarian

I believe this book was written for me.  When I sat down this morning to start reading, I have to say I wasn’t really looking forward to it.  I had heard this book was good, but frankly, it was Saturday, and if I’m not lesson planning, I don’t want to think about school or children.  It didn’t take long for me to change my mind, though.  It happened on page nine, paragraph one, otherwise known as the very beginning of the book.  Mr. Rubenstein’s story sounded very similar to mine.  I knew after that first short chapter, this book was going to be good.  As I continued reading, I started jotting down page numbers that contained any funny or practical advice.  I figured I could reference some of those stories in this blog.  Before I knew it, my little post-it was covered with page numbers.  I couldn’t possibly reference them all in my post because I’d basically be re-writing the book.  It’s safe to say I enjoyed the read and ended the book with a much more positive attitude than when beginning it.  I’ll reference a few parts that I particularly enjoyed.  Page 17 - Mr. Rubenstein uses the word “roasted” when talking about how his students treated him.  This reminded me of a word that a second year teacher used when referencing a lesson she taught from last year’s summer school – “crucified.”  Both sound like torture techniques form the medieval days.  Page 27 – Mr. Rubenstein talks about observing good teachers.  This only made me think of my team teacher.  His effortless, yet incredibly effective lessons are a joy to watch.  Somehow I just can’t reproduce them though.  I guess that’s a skill that’s developed with time and much practice.  At this point I’m going to skip some pages I marked and move ahead page 41.  Here, Mr. Rubenstein caught me.  It deserves to be quoted – “What I didn’t realize, of course, was that the first few days of school are usually easy.  Teachers fondly call this the honeymoon period.  It begins the first minute of the school year and ends when the teacher, while trying to silence the class, first plaintively utters the phrase, ‘Come on guys.’” GUILTY.  I couldn’t help but smile after I read that.  All I could picture was the handful of times I throw up a hand and said those exact words to my class.  Damn.  Anyway, on to page 74 where I finally read something I wanted to hear.  Mr. Rubenstein writes, “Once they are convinced you are a real teacher, you can slowly morph into the kind of teacher you’ve always envisioned yourself to be.”  FINALLY!  Too bad you have to go through that whole Nazi dictator phase to get there.  Well, each person has a mountain to climb.  Guess I signed up for Everest without knowing.  There were many more awesome parts to this book, but I just have to skip to the very end.  The last section is titled – “Don’t teach summer school.”  What am I doing this summer?  Teaching summer school.  What will I be doing next summer?  Teaching summer school.  I just had to laugh that one off.  Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, just like everyone said I would.  : )

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