Roxanna Elden: Your Friend and Mine
There is a magical book called See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers, by Teachers.
The author is Roxanna Elden. (Disclosure: I do not know Ms. Elden personally. I receive no commissions, etc. I just like her book.) Elden has been teaching for a long time. She is an experienced and highly accomplished teacher. You can read about Roxanna and her work and BUY THE BOOK on her website.
Reading this book, I immediately felt I had a sense of the author and that, as a teacher, she was on my side. She knows this job inside and out, and she has thought hard about it. (And she provides many anecdotes from other teachers that will make you feel a whole lot less inadequate.) But rather than just bitching and moaning, like me, she offers a fresh set of eyes on ordinary problems and recommends realistic ideas to deal with real classroom issues. She readily admits that there are no magic bullets and that not every idea works with every teacher’s personality. She just offers the fruits of experience and smarts to address the shit-storms that naturally occur in our classrooms every day in grade school, middle school (bless you people), and high school. It speaks to all of us.
As cynical as I am, I found things that made me think that a tweak here or there might make it all a little bit better. I can do this. There is no edu-babble, TFA talking points, debates about the latest research on word walls, or any other crap like that. It is smart, funny, plain-spoken advice about how to make you saner and more effective at your job by somebody who has been thinking and working on this for a long time. How to deal with parents, kids, administrators…it’s all there.
Elden cares about kids. But she also cares about you and your mental and physical health. If you are somewhere in your first 3 years of teaching, you really should take a look at this book. You should especially get it if you are feeling like a total failure as a teacher. (If you don’t feel like a failure, write your own damn book.) This is my sixth year of teaching, and I also found it useful.
When I was reading it, I trusted her. There are so many hundreds of things that my administrators have told me to do over the years. There is no way I could comply with all of them. So I just started to ignore everything they said because it was easier than trying to succeed when I knew I would fail. But Elden recommends some things my administrators have been saying. It was disturbing. But I let her be my filter. I will take a second look at those things because I know she knows what she is talking about.
I highly recommend this book for anybody in their first few years who is frustrated, but would really like to stay in and give it a go. It will give you heart. A nice read at the end of the year or over the summer.
That website again is here. Thanks, Roxanna.