Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: I'd Like to Thank Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza

Tony Danza was an English high school teacher for a year at a Philadelphia school. A reality t.v. show called “Teach” based on some of his teaching experiences was also made to shine a light on some of the challenges that teachers and students face in today’s public schools in the United States. Not only do teachers have to stay in line with their lesson plans throughout the school year (and have to backtrack and help students relearn what was covered sometimes when snow days happen) but they also need to learn to care about their students. Sometimes it’s hard to reach out to students when you don’t know what’s going on in their lives outside of the classroom. As Tony was challenged to get inside the heads of his students, students from other places in the school wandered into his classroom at times and he describes ways that he reached out to those students as well.

Reading this book brought back some good memories of my student teaching experiences at a public middle school, and also helped me remember the challenges that I saw teachers face. I understood Tony’s point about balancing the needs of over 20 students at a time (with most teachers having many classes per day), having a copy machine quota, and teachers worrying about losing their jobs. Since I never became a teacher in a public school, I didn’t experience what he and other teachers experience firsthand. I only watched and heard what they went through, which is where my understanding comes in.

I attended a book talk a little over a year ago where Tony spoke about this book and I’m glad I was given a chance to read it and found the time recently to do so, since one of my family members bought it for me as a gift last year. It was great to read about Tony’s experiences as a teacher, not only because I loved watching him entertain me and other people in the TV show “Who’s the Boss” when I was kid, but because I have the teaching passion bubbling on the inside of me as well. Even though I’m sort of a teacher right now (more of a facilitator), the experiences in this book have inspired and encouraged me to keep going forward with this passion, possibly dedicating more time in my life in this area for God’s purposes. I hope the experiences that are shared in the book will inspire and encourage many more people, and will help them to see just how hard it is to be a teacher in the public school system in America.


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