Oct 30, 2016

Educating Esmé

Diary of a Teacher's First Year
by Esmé Raji Codell

I found this book at a secondhand shop, and was interested because I have a friend who is in her first year as a teacher. It's the author's diary about her fifth-grade classroom in a Chicago school- one that had just been built. She tells how she earns the students' respect, helps them deal with problems (or leave them at the door) and how she galvanizes learning- especially when it comes to literature. About her plans and projects, how they work out or don't. She's full of creativity and energy, but comes up against reluctant volunteers, unenthusiastic co-workers, and a serious clash with her principal who mostly picks a fight because she wants her students to call her "Madame Esmé" which he insists isn't proper. The kids often give her a hard time. Some of them are dealing with abuse (it happens right in front of her a few times), homelessness, recent immigration... She isn't afraid to speak up to other adults or even the children- this could come across as rude but I admired her for speaking her mind. It's a funny, heartwarming, sometimes surprising account. But it was a really quick read. Half the book is made up of the foreward, an afterward, an epilogue, and Esmé's own tips for new teachers- which is certainly thorough and looks very informative. She taught two years at the Chicago school and then went to a different school where she became a librarian (and loves it). Her current space: The Planet Esmé Plan, where I might just get some recommendations myself.

Rating: 3/5       262 pages, 2009

more opinions:
A Worn Path

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