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Friday, August 1, 2014


     The Fundamentals.

Published in 2009 by Kaplan Publishing

Although I am going into my 25th year of teaching, I enjoyed the advice that was intended for new teachers offered in See Me After Class. It is always good to go back to the basics and make sure that you remind yourself of the fundamentals.

The strength of the book is just that - it deals in fundamentals. Tricks to get you through the first day with its ever-changing class lists, reminders that we do indeed learn from our mistakes, warning of the danger of falling behind in grading papers (including giving yourself enough time to grade big things before the report card grades are due), the danger of sending too many kids out of class, remembering that all kids do not respond to incentives or consequences the same way, advice to get those project assignments turned in, and a part that I particularly liked: an overview of some basic different types of students you are going to run into ("Low Performing Kids", "Unmotivated Kids", "Shy Kids", etc.). Each type has a little profile and little sections like "What They Need from You" and "Why Giving Them your Attention Is Still Worth It". 

Elden recognizes that we all have our bad days and gives advice about how to recover from them. At the end of some chapters she includes a series of quotes from veteran teachers describing an absolute disaster that happened to them. The idea is that is that even though you will struggle and even outright fail, you can succeed and even thrive. She also includes advice about the teacher's lounge and how to present yourself as a professional, how to survive observations, how to talk to parents and more.

Perhaps the most important advice is sprinkled throughout the book - you have to make it work for you as a teacher. Your style, your comfort level, your idiosyncrasies. She gives lots of advice and encourages you to realistically adapt it to you and your situation. 

So, this old dog didn't really learn any tricks with this book but it encouraged me to think of the basics and even to re-consider some of what I do. 

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on August 1, 2014.

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