Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Educating Esme: A Diary of a Teacher’s First Year, by Esme Raji Codell

Cover ImageFinished 5-9-09, rating 3/5, education, pub. 1999

The older teachers shook their heads and told me my room looked overstimulating, which means they are totally jealous because I have the most insanely beautiful classroom ever, of all time.  Oh, God!  I have beautiful portraits of explorers over the chalkboard, the cloakroom has a cutout panorama of an international open-air market, and there’s a learning center with flags of all nations.  I’m sorry, this room is so fun it’s sickening.  I feel sorry for any kid who is not in this room.

September 18

Esme is beginning her first year as a teacher and keeps a diary of her successes and struggles.  This is that honest and often funny journal. 

I loved the passion, committment , and take no bull attitude as she maneuvered her way through unruly students, abusive parents, and out of touch administration.  Her fifth grade class was lucky to have this unconventional teacher who went out of her way to make the classroom a safe environment for these at-risk inner city Chicago kids.  She went above and beyond, even keeping a student’s 2 year old sister with her all day while teaching.

There were many things to like a few aspects that fell short.  These were vignettes that lacked a big picture to frame the story.  This is not her fault since it was a diary, but it was lacking for the reader.  Also, as much as I liked her, her supreme self-confidence did get tiresome, although I think this confidence was great for her students.

This is a short read and is a great look inside a first year teacher’s classroom.   I do think this would be a nice graduation gift for anyone planning to study education in college.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , , , | 6 Comments

Philip Roth class

Today was my first Philip Roth class.  We are reading American Pastoral first and were to have read the first 100 pages today.  I can’t go too much into the book because I haven’t finished reading it yet, but wanted to tell a little about the class itself.  It’s a continuing education class from a local university, so there is no credit or grade given.  You take the class to learn about something new. 

I had American Pastoral in my ‘to read’ pile and thought there was no better opportunity to read it and learn.  There were 20 people in the class and I was by far the youngest.  But, even if I felt a little conspicuous I was not alone since there is also only one man in the class.  Most of the discussion was taken up by the setting of the book, growing up in the 1950’s and I enjoyed the many perspectives of the class.  I did not grow up in the 50’s and certainly do not speak for a whole generation, so, I’ll have to wait and see if I have anything of real value to add.  To be honest, I really did enjoy hearing everyone else’s take on the decade, the war, the culture.

Our instructor loves Philip Roth.  The most interesting thing I learned about him today was the fact that he writes standing up due to severe back pain.  Virginia Woolf also wrote standing up.  Does anyone know another author who writes standing up?  I can’t even imagine it really. 

If you have a chance to take a class and learn something new you will be better off for it.  It’s not just the subject matter you learn, but also the knowledge that everyone in the class has to share.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment