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Books: See Me After Class -- Again!

SeeMeAfterClass_2ndEditionCoverRoxanna Elden's bestselling book, See Me After Class, is out in a second edition and so this seems like a good time to interview her about all that's happened since she first appeared here in 2010 when the book came out (and what goodies and advice has been added):

Best (or worst) experience doing publicity or giving talks for the book? 

 RE: The best experience has been teachers who say the book pulled them back from the edge of quitting. The worst was getting stuck on a plane next to someone who had watched "Waiting for Superman" and wanted to lecture me about what teachers are doing wrong during the whole flight. (I had the window seat.)

What do you know now that you wish you'd known in 2009? 

RE: The dial of change vs. stability in education needs to be monitored carefully. Change can be good, but chaos and upheaval are bad.

What's the biggest change between now and then for teachers? 

RE: Today’s new teachers are starting their careers in a highly charged political climate that in some cases pits newer teachers against more experienced would-be mentors. On top of this, rookies’ every move is being monitored for “effectiveness” data, which creates pressure not only to become successful teachers but to be successful from day one.

What's the biggest myth or persistent misconception about teachers out there? 

RE: The rookie super-hero teacher who doesn’t need sleep, doesn’t need to cooperate with her colleagues, and doesn’t need experience because she’s figured out that the secret to teaching is showing kids that she cares.

Take a stand:  Team TFA or Team Ed School? 

RE: Both. Or neither, depending on how you look at it. I wrote the book because teachers get lots of good information in training, but much of it is easier said than done, especially for people faced with a non-stop series of judgment calls they’ve never had to make before.


What do the kids/teachers/parents think about your book? 

RE: Teachers at my school have been very supportive. I usually don’t tell students that I’ve written a book until the end of the year. Then I do a one-day workshop on the publishing industry and what it’s like to try to build a career as a writer.

Why so long between editions? 

RE: As much as things have changed in education, new teachers still have the same need for honesty, humor, and practical advice as they always did - and it’s still hard to find. 

What's the question you never get asked but really wish you did? 

RE: How would reading "See Me After Class" have affected your career as a new teacher?

What's the answer? 

RE: I would have enjoyed my early days of teaching more, which would have benefited my students. It wasn’t a great experience for them to have a teacher whose emotional rubber band was almost always stretched to its breaking point. Then again, if my first year had gone well I probably wouldn’t have written a book.


Previous posts: The "Anti-Hollywood" Teacher's Book"The Myth Of The Super Teacher" "See Me After Class" [Dave Berry blurb] 


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I love this author...and love this book!

I did quit teaching anyway, but that doesn't stop the advice from being useful, but told in a humorous way. I would recommend her book to any teacher and reread it even as an ex-teacher.

I think what she says (here and at much greater length in the book) about the myth of the superhero novice teacher is really important, especially in these days of TFA and similar programs, and all the hype in the media and movies that portray veteran teachers on the one hand to be lazy, callous and downright mean or stupid, and new teachers as the saviors of the world. While it's true that veteran teachers can often be somewhat jaded, having lived a lifetime of "reforms" and great new ideas that can throw everything into chaos only to disappear the next year to make room for another new fad, it's also true that they have generally acquired an incomparable wealth of skills and know-how over the years The utter disregard shown by politicians and the mainstream media to people who have dedicated their entire career to teaching is as ignorant as it is downright insulting. In what other profession can one get away with saying that experience doesn't matter, and that the green newbie--often with little to no formal training or practical experience--will outperform the veteran? Picture that scenario with a doctor..."Well, he didn't actually go to medical school, but he did graduate from college, and went through a 6-week boot camp where he looked at lots of pictures, watched videos and even got to sit in the doctor's office with the doctor a few times. But you'll see, he is going to save all those patients' lives that old, jaded doctor couldn't, because he is passionate and enthusiastic and believes in his patients' ability to live." Give me a break.

Roxanna Elden really captures and expresses the importance of experience--which is why this book, intended to help new teachers navigate the obstacle course of their first treacherous few years, is so crucial...anything that helps them make it past 3 years will ultimately lead to a much wiser, more effective teacher in the classroom.

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