Educating Esme

By: Jessica Edlin

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I choose to read the book “Educating Esme” because I wanted to get some insight about a teacher’s first year. Throughout this book you follow a new teacher and her personal experiences concerning students, teachers, administrators, and parents. I recommended this book to teachers because it includes personal stories on how to deal with all the different types of people you will encounter as a teacher. Everything in this book deals with important examples that teachers can learn from. Personally I think this will help me in the future because it offers confidence and explains how everyone has to start somewhere, including you. After reading this book, you will have something to refer to when you are feeling like your job is becoming impossible. I think at some point in a teacher’s career they could come back and relate their experiences to Esme’s first year of teaching, even if they are in a different school environment. This book can also reach out to any other career on how the author wrote her book. In many cases she wrote situations on life and how she was standing up for herself with people she worked with and that is a good lesson for anything to learn. I like how she can reach out to everyone while only talking about school related events. This really shows how awesome she is at getting her point across when she can reach more than just her immediate audience. “Educating Esme” is a good and easy read with some good life lessons embraced in her story. I recommend this to teachers and anyone who is willing to listen about cooperation inside their career.

How does Educating Esme impact me as a learner?

Reading this book as a student put a very different perspective on the outcome of this book. After reading a story I would think about it in the role of a teacher, but then also think as if I was the student and the outcome of the situation would change tremendously. I believe this is a good thing because then you can put yourself in the shoes of your students and can react the way they would. This gives you time to prepare yourself for the outcome of the students. Esme planned many lessons and activities that stretched the normal standards for teachers. Many of her co-workers questioned her teaching, but she never doubted herself. She knew how the children would react to her out-of-the-box thinking. As a student I think her ideas for awesome because they caught the students attention in the positive way. After they had their attention she was able to reach out to each and every student in a way that reflected success. One of her ideas was used on a student who was giving her challenges in class. She announced that he would be the teacher for one whole day of school. This got the kids talking and made the little boy nervous to come to school the next day. She never backed down on her statement which built trust with the students and the outcome was a success. The student realized the difficulties of teaching and ended up performing very well in the class room. She realized that he had been taking note of the way she ran the classroom because he said many of the same phrases she used before. For the rest of the year he decreased the amount of issues that he once had which created a very positive learning environment for Esme’s classroom. In the end her crazy idea was a success because it created more attention on the children’s learning instead of negative behavior in her classroom. As a student this idea may have seemed crazy and fun at times but overall it shows that your teacher is not afraid to cross the boundaries of creativeness which I think is appealing. When you have a teacher who is willing to put their students before their own image, it creates bonds which is everything when running a classroom. This experiment also was a huge learning experience for all the students in the room. They were able to take something away from their classmate teaching them for the day. Overall I liked reading this book as a learner because it shows the different ways teachers plan lessons and the ideas they plan in order to make the class learn in effective ways. As a learner this makes me think of the creative activities teachers have planned in the past. This also makes me wonder about the different ideas I could create in my future classroom in order to increase learning in a positive way. When you are sitting in a classroom all day you tend to crave the activities that are out of the box and exciting in the classroom. I think those ideas are going to create a better outcome because the students are going to be excited to learn instead of dreading the fact of increasing their knowledge.

How will I apply Educating Esme in my classroom?

After reading this informational novel I have many ideas and plans for my future classroom, along with a ton of great advice for beginning teachers. This also applies to my current classroom where I help out with kindergartners. Esme shared all of her experiences throughout her first year of teaching fifth grade. Everything from difficult students, from bossy parents, to complaining co-workers, she had to deal with it all. One of her big issues throughout her first year was her name that the students referred to her as. She told her class to call her Madam Esme. Her bos did not approve of this name and informed her that it was against the board policy. From day one Esme decided this was what her students were going to call her and she never backed down from this decision even if it meant losing her job. For her this was a fun way for to add creativity to herself by separating herself from all the other teachers. In the end this never came in between the learning of the students and never caused a problem for her classroom. It did however cause a problem with her boss because she was not following his guidelines which created conflict between them. Esme made it clear from the beginning that this was going to be her name and never backed down from her statement. I think this shows courage and creates self confidence of for her. This was able to get her authority in the classroom and also with her fellow co-workers. This same kind of idea can help teachers and it can be expressed in the classroom. I am not saying that everyone has to go against the rules and make up a funky name for themselves, but this does however create a good example for teachers to never give up on something that they strongly believe in. I have seen this done in different ideas throughout the school and I think if there is something worth fighting for then go for it. Teachers are best when they teaching because they have passion for something, instead of just drilling different facts and techniques into developing brains they need to be engaged on a different level in order to reach the kids. Another example she shared in her book was her idea to build a time machine for reading time. After making a huge box into this machine, she was able to engage the kids into really getting something out of the books they were reading. Some teachers made a comment to her saying this was a waste of supplies and time on her part, but she knew they were wrong. The first kid went inside to test it out and after about 15 minutes of sitting in this box her brain transformed into much more. It was the idea that counted when it all came down to learning. If you think about it there are no studies that show growth in the brain from reading inside a box, but when you can persuade your students otherwise you can create huge results. After her experiment the students got a lot more from the books they were reading and were able to understand a lot more of what the book's message was. Creating big ideas can work because if you catch their attention then you can really control the classroom and create huge learning levels. Overall she had some great ideas that I will use in the future and will keep in mind for my current classroom. I loved how she was not afraid of what others thought of her or if she was abiding by the rules. All she was focused on was their learning and that is the ultimate goal as a teacher. My teacher was incorporated big ideas in her classroom throughout writer’s workshop. She used a huge piece of cardboard and made a giant book. This was an easy way to get the attention of the kids and also had fun with writing time. I will definitely be using this idea in my future classroom.

Questions I had

#1: How should we carry ourself when around our boss?

#2: How close do you want to get with your students on a personal level?

#3: How involved should we be in our school? Is more or less better?