All right, so through every semester you all have listened to me whine and complain about my life as a teacher. And yet, no one seems to reach out and tell me, “Hey, you know what, it is going to be OK. You can do this.” That was until I met Mr. Danza.
About a week ago I came home from work and my mom was watching T.V. Well, she wasn’t so much watching T.V. as she had it on while she was crocheting (yes, very stereotypical of a mother to be sitting and crocheting into the night). I came in and flopped down on her bed and happened to start watching.
The channel was set to C-SPAN Books, who knew that was a channel? To my astonishment I saw Tony Danza of Taxi fame on the T.V. Now, I am always skeptical of actors turned writers. Part of it is sheer jealousy. Using your fame to sell “books.” And I say it as “books,” because most of these are co-authors, ghost-written, or just plain trash. There are so many writers out there, true writers attempting to get their stories read, but they aren’t given the time of day. Yet, Snookie can publish a book in a matter of six months. Sad!
So, here I am watching the T.V. because it is there and it is on. I begin to really notice the title of the book that he is talking about, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. Hmmmmmmmm, interesting.
I sit there and I watch the last half of the show where teachers stand up and thank Tony for the work he did, his words of wisdom to share with other teachers and I felt like he was sometimes talking to me. Sure, he taught high school and I am teaching at a university, but teaching is teaching and the words he was saying really resonated with my and where I am.
This book weighed on my mind for over a week! I decided I would splurge and spend the $11.99 on Amazon.com to upload a digital copy to my Kindle. I was looking for something to read, and this book just might be it!
The book proved to be exactly what I needed at the right moment. In his book he talks about how he had always wanted to be a teacher, but when he was “discovered” in the boxing gym he wasn’t about to turn that opportunity down. On the cusp of a mid-life crisis and a cancelled show, Tony decides his next move in life is to become that teacher he always dreamed about.
Through the course of the books Tony talks about the filming of a reality show based off of his time spent teaching. He tells the reader how this show was cancelled too because it didn’t have enough “drama” in it to make people want to watch what was happening in his classroom.
I read the book in one day, it was so good! The book is a very easy read, but with each chapter Danza breaks down the chapters into a story of what happens in the classroom with his students, and then he tells you in the following chapter how that situation made him a better teacher.
What really made me love this book and read it so veraciously was this, he was honest. He told you how at moments he disliked his students. Not for who they were, but their habits. How he broke down and cried at the end of some of his failed lessons. He talked about wanting them to succeed and feeling as if he had short changed those young people when they didn’t understand the topic of the day. It made me feel like this is really what teaching is.
You know, it is the end of my semester here. I have one more week of class instruction left and then I set them free for finals. And although my students are in college, some are barely months younger than me, some years older; but still I want what is the best for them, I still want to see them succeed and become a better writer. I want so much for them to have learned ONE concept I would be happy.
When I started my master’s program and I did the TA thing, no one seemed to tell me this would suck. Everyone tells me that you may not like your job, but no one was honest and said, “There are going to be days that you just cry. You just sit there and feel as though you failed all 37 of the students sitting in your room.”
I often feel like that, like I have failed them at the end of the 16 weeks. But you know what, after reading this book by Tony Danza I feel just a little bit better.
What he really does is take an honest look at what education in our country has come to. He looks at the restrictions placed on teachers. He examines the cultures that students live in. He witnesses first hand the barriers students and teachers must move around and he becomes an advocate for our education system. Only we can change how our country runs its education, we are the ones that need to take a stand as parents, citizens, teachers, students, all of us.
I would highly recommend this book to any first time teacher, I think it speaks to the place that each of us are in during the first few years of teaching. I would also suggest any parent that seems to wonder what is happening with our education system read this book, go inside a classroom and see what we really have to deal with. Your children are not the darlings you think they are, take a peek at the behavior we have to deal with.
Please let me know if you have read the book and what your thoughts are on the subject. I would love to have other points of view!
**P for Pocket Owl Press**