Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
By Rachael Orbach
Here they come.
Oh boy, that's exactly how I feel each and every one of my classes that I teach. Not
ready? Well, I've prepared a lesson according to how I've been taught, to have
different activities for the 50 minutes. But the students saunter in five minutes after
the bell. They then have to find their books, and finally they can learn.
Frank McCourt expresses what I feel. Well, the events that he describes didn't happen
to me, I teach in a boys school. I would never eat a student's sandwich, or talk about
sheep the way he did. I teach in a religious school after all.
I have had my eraser thrown at me. I didn't catch it. I brought a bell to class, I got
laughed at. Then I brought a castanet. That got a bit more response. The best thing
I've found is to go around with the grade book, and record a zero when the students
are misbehaving. "Ok, Yossi, thank you that earns you a zero for today." Then the
students put away their cards, or backgammon game, turn around and pay attention.
He finally finds his place in teaching by telling stories. The students are so smart that
they head Mr. McCourt off at the pass by asking him about his life. He can't resist.
So he colors his teaching with stories about his life, and that gets him into trouble.
He doesn't have a firm border between his life and his teaching. Is this what
characterizes all new teachers?
Everyone has to learn their own style of teaching. Mr. McCourt's style seems to be
very informal. Maybe it has to do with his own personality and background.
I would like to read the rest of the book. This taste was not enough. This was about a 15 page extract