Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year

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Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999 - Education - 204 pages
Esmé Raji Codell has come to teach - and she's not going to let incompetent administrators, abusive parents, gang members, weary teachers, dim-witted principals, angry children, or her own insecurities get in the way. Esmé is fresh mouthed yet compassionate; she can be both pigheaded and generous, cynical and charming. In this diary, a record of her frustrations, her achievements, and her struggles to maintain her individuality in the face of bureaucracy, she reveals what it takes to be a genuine teacher.

Esmé wears costumes in the classroom, dances with the kids during rallies in the auditorium, puts on rousing performances with at-risk kids in the library. Her fifth-graders don't use the reading textbook: "What for? Grown-ups don't read textbooks, unless they're forced." Math is called Puzzling; "I figured kids at this age come to me with preconceived notions of what they are good at. This way a kid who thinks she's no good in math might turn out to be good at Puzzling." Disciplinary action includes having the "bad boy" of the class be the teacher for a day while Esmé misbehaves just as he would. She is twenty-four-year-old woman with the enthusiasm of an elementary school student and the determination of a dedicated teacher.

Must reading for every teacher, Educating Esmé is not just for educators. This is a story about frustrations in any workplace, about refusing to conform, about taking a stand against mediocrity. By the sheer force of her personality, Esmé gives us an exhilarating field trip through a Chicago public school.

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User Review  - SimoneAlexis -

From the perspective of a first year teacher in an inner city Chicago school, comes Educating Esme. It is the real story of her experience teaching a class of 5th graders who are struggling with many ... Read full review

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User Review  - ezmchill -

I wanted to like this book, but certain parts just rubbed me the wrong way. Such as when the mother was punching her son, Esme's student, in school, and she thinks something along the lines of, "Well ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

A nationally renowned advocate for literacy and literature-based instruction, Esmé Raji Codell is today "one of the nation's most sought-after voices for empowering teachers" (People) and a "Superstar of Education" (Scolastic Instructor). Esmé has been interviewed on CBS This Morning, CNN, C-SPAN's Book Talk, and NPR. The author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading as well as award-winning books for children, Esmé lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she spent many years as an educator in Chicago public schools and now runs the popular children's literature Web site and the unique literary salon, the PlanetEsme Bookroom.

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