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.