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Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students

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An account of the author's personal awakening as a teacher, interspersed with the first-person stories of his students. It looks at what it means to be a teacher and a student in urban America, and deals with the critical moral issues teachers must face.


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An account of the author's personal awakening as a teacher, interspersed with the first-person stories of his students. It looks at what it means to be a teacher and a student in urban America, and deals with the critical moral issues teachers must face.

30 review for Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This past week I was asked to read Gregory Michie's Holler if You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students for my Teaching of English in Diverse Social and Cultural Contexts course. Yes, it's a mouthful, but it's a great class! For those of you who haven't read it, Holler if You Hear Me is a series of anecdotes from Michie's 10 years teaching in inner-city Chicago, predominantly Mexican-American schools and the struggles he and his middle school students face: poverty, gang life, teen This past week I was asked to read Gregory Michie's Holler if You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students for my Teaching of English in Diverse Social and Cultural Contexts course. Yes, it's a mouthful, but it's a great class! For those of you who haven't read it, Holler if You Hear Me is a series of anecdotes from Michie's 10 years teaching in inner-city Chicago, predominantly Mexican-American schools and the struggles he and his middle school students face: poverty, gang life, teen pregancy, and understaffed, unprepared schools--Michie originally applied for a position as a substitute and was offered a full-time position within a week, despite having no credentials. Right away, it probably conjures up images of Dangerous Minds, a correlation Michie and others have been quick to point out. However, where Holler sets itself apart from the Hollywood teacher-as-savior stories is in his failures as a teacher. His students don't all graduate, resist the call of the streets, and go to college. In fact, most of them don't. The purpose of Holler isn't to affirm budding teachers like me that we can "change the world"; it isn't even to show us what we're up against, though, arguably, it can do both of those things. It's purpose is give his students a voice. Each chapter begins with a short anecdote (usually a teaching moment but sometimes just a story) about his students, his school, or a fellow teacher. But each ends with an interview with a single-student related to that story. And it's here we learn about who these students are, their goals, where they're going, what they think about this or that. These are invaluable perspectives when our society is so often sold on "The Single Story" of inner-city schools. "They're all gang-bangers, drug-dealers, promiscuous, can't-be-taught-and-don't-want-to-learn"--when so often, the opposite is true. The result is that teachers, schools, and entire cities often give up on them before they've even been given a chance. So many of these children end up turning to the only lifestyle they're told they're suited for. And the cycle reinforces itself. As I mentioned earlier, this isn't a teacher-as-savior story, though it does have those moments. In an early chapter, Michie discusses an idea he has for teaching Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street to his Language Arts class, in hopes that the voice will capture his Latino students' attention. To help them get through it, he gets a group of older girls to record a dramatic reading for his class. What starts as one girl reading one excerpt becomes five girls recording multiple chapters for themselves in a kind of after-school book club. By the end of it, they're all so moved they decide to let Cisneros know in a letter, also inviting her to stop by the school if she's ever in town. And she does. I read The House on Mango Street at a time in my young adult life when I still didn't really know Mexican-Americans could be authors--Chicano literature would remain largely foreign to me until I started my Masters degree at New Mexico Highlands University. So, as for the "Mango girls", one line always stood out to me: "When you leave you must remember to come back for the others." It's appropriate then that one of those girls went on to college, became a teacher, returned to Michie's school, and sent students of her own off to college, too. So the book isn't devoid of hope, and if anything, it's a call to action. In the end, I'd recommend Holler if You Hear Me to any teacher. As my professor noted, it's also simply about the teacher as "other" to his students and how bridging that gap can make all the difference in an effective classroom. Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Chapter 6 epigraph: Let there be no doubt: a "skilled" minority person who is not also capable of critical analysis becomes the trainable, low-level functionary of the dominant society, simply the grease that keeps the institutions which orchestrate his or her oppression running smoothly. On the other hand, a critical thinker who lacks the "skills" demanded by employers and institutions of higher learning can aspire to financial and social status only within the disenfranchised underworld. —Lisa D Chapter 6 epigraph: Let there be no doubt: a "skilled" minority person who is not also capable of critical analysis becomes the trainable, low-level functionary of the dominant society, simply the grease that keeps the institutions which orchestrate his or her oppression running smoothly. On the other hand, a critical thinker who lacks the "skills" demanded by employers and institutions of higher learning can aspire to financial and social status only within the disenfranchised underworld. —Lisa Delpit, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the ClassroomI don’t know what is taught in other universities, but here in the San Francisco Bay Area, all four teacher prep programs I’m aware of (CSUEB, SFSU, Stanford and USF) have some variation of “Teaching for Equity in Secondary Schools”. As the subtitle of the syllabus puts it, “The Right to a Free Public Education is the Most Pressing Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.” The class was interesting, and sometimes fascinating, although the professor has trouble connecting with many of the students, so there was frequently an undercurrent of frustration and even hostility. That wasn’t one of my problems. What was a frustration was the emphasis on the African-American aspect of the problem, to the almost complete exclusion of other ethnicities and cultures. I will certainly acknowledge that the history of the United State makes this problem loom larger and more tragic than others, but that is a societal problem, and the focus isn’t helpful to, for example, a teacher dealing with a class full of Latino English-language learners — or many other cultures or peoples who face inequities. But this book “Holler if you hear me: The education of a teacher and his students”, was a pleasure. That’s probably because it isn’t intended as advocacy, but as a very interesting memoir. For anyone who read the much earlier “Up the Down Staircase”, this serves as a good sequel, informing the reader what conditions a teacher sometimes faced in an impoverished urban school. Of the three books we read for class, it was also the one that didn’t focus on African-Americans, but Latinos in Chicago. As a textbook for how to teach in a highly diverse school, it doesn’t really work. But as an eye-opening look at one teacher’s life, it’s wonderful.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Books about teachers in "disadvantaged" schools invariably focus on the teacher -- and not just their everyday existence. It is usually Teacher as Savior or Teacher as Victim. Gregory Michie's memoir, which also includes the in-their-own-words stories of many of his students, details the early days of his teaching career in Chicago Public Schools. But, what makes Michie's memoir compelling lies in how he is neither the hero (we hear of plenty of his mistakes) nor the bum. What we see is Michie - Books about teachers in "disadvantaged" schools invariably focus on the teacher -- and not just their everyday existence. It is usually Teacher as Savior or Teacher as Victim. Gregory Michie's memoir, which also includes the in-their-own-words stories of many of his students, details the early days of his teaching career in Chicago Public Schools. But, what makes Michie's memoir compelling lies in how he is neither the hero (we hear of plenty of his mistakes) nor the bum. What we see is Michie -- and his students -- doing their best, with varying levels of success.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    This is a fantastic book for anyone who is going into teaching or who is already a teacher. Very insightful. I'll admit that I was scared in parts, especially when he talked about having no guidance or curriculum and having to wing it. That's my biggest fear as I approach the end of my graduate work and head into a classroom of my own. But the biggest lesson I learned from this book was that I need to remember to see my students as individuals rather than as a collective. I need to remember that This is a fantastic book for anyone who is going into teaching or who is already a teacher. Very insightful. I'll admit that I was scared in parts, especially when he talked about having no guidance or curriculum and having to wing it. That's my biggest fear as I approach the end of my graduate work and head into a classroom of my own. But the biggest lesson I learned from this book was that I need to remember to see my students as individuals rather than as a collective. I need to remember that I can't expect them to check their lives and their world at the door. I should embrace it, let them enjoy it, talk about it, etc. Learning about who they are, what they love, and where they come from is an important part of not just my own learning process as a teacher, but also theirs as a students. Michie does a great job of this in his book. He somehow found the balance (after trial and error, of course) and he brings hope to aspiring teachers that we can do the same thing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alessa Suraci

    So far I'm really enjoying Michie's Holler If You Hear Me. The vignettes are engaging and I really like that he follows up with the students after they have left his class. It is really interesting to hear from a variety of different perspectives from both the students and the academic professionals that Michie encounters. Next fall (if all goes according to plan!) I will be starting my first year as a high school English teacher and it is fascinating to hear about teaching from the perspective So far I'm really enjoying Michie's Holler If You Hear Me. The vignettes are engaging and I really like that he follows up with the students after they have left his class. It is really interesting to hear from a variety of different perspectives from both the students and the academic professionals that Michie encounters. Next fall (if all goes according to plan!) I will be starting my first year as a high school English teacher and it is fascinating to hear about teaching from the perspective of a young, inexperienced educator.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Martin Geiger

    Fortunately, this is not a teacher memoir focused primarily on the teacher's magical abilities to inspire his underprivileged students. Really, it's less focused on Michie's own experience than his efforts to share the stories of his students, with his own story functioning as a framing device. His own story is interesting, and searchingly honest - about his mistakes and ignorance, and his constant efforts to make sense of a school system very different from what he expected. But what makes Mich Fortunately, this is not a teacher memoir focused primarily on the teacher's magical abilities to inspire his underprivileged students. Really, it's less focused on Michie's own experience than his efforts to share the stories of his students, with his own story functioning as a framing device. His own story is interesting, and searchingly honest - about his mistakes and ignorance, and his constant efforts to make sense of a school system very different from what he expected. But what makes Michie's book stand out is his inclusion of his students' thinking and writing throughout each chapter, often writing that reflects their frustrations with him, and with school. My favorite pieces of the book were the bookends between chapters - extended reflections from his former students on their experiences in school, and their lives now. Its the range of voices who appear that particularly appeals to me - he hasn't chosen exclusively successful students, or students who liked his class particularly. What the students who appear in the bookends have in common is tenacity - in life and in writing, and who have something interesting to say about education, about their community, and about the future. The great range of their lives, and the passion with which they approach their writing, speak to the satisfactions and frustrations of education, particularly education inflected with the need for socioeconomic justice. So really, it's the "and his students" part of the title that kept me reading, and Michie's efforts to share space with their voices that most fully reflects his own ideals as a teacher. Certainly a book I'll return to and keep thinking about.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I have finally finished reading this book for my first education class. I've really enjoyed Gregory Michie's book on sharing his personal teaching experience. His students' stories are so incredibly genuine and the issues they face are ones to be heard. This is a well-written book, and I recommend it for anyone who fall in love with other people's passions and stories and want to gain new perspectives and listen to the strength in the voices of these young students. I had the privilege of listen I have finally finished reading this book for my first education class. I've really enjoyed Gregory Michie's book on sharing his personal teaching experience. His students' stories are so incredibly genuine and the issues they face are ones to be heard. This is a well-written book, and I recommend it for anyone who fall in love with other people's passions and stories and want to gain new perspectives and listen to the strength in the voices of these young students. I had the privilege of listening to Gregory Michie. My college invited him to come speak to the education majors. His philosophy of teaching is what I believe all educators should follow. He said, "Every student deserves a meaningful education", and I couldn't agree more. Even more, he explained how it's easy to identify success stories of the students who become doctors and lawyers, but there is a broader sense of success, and it's individually based. A student who overcomes the cycle of drug addiction in the family and is doing everything he can to provide for his family through a small landscaping company, that is still success. What incredibly powerful messages he has to share with our world and the world of education!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bacchus

    Though this book teeters precariously on Dangerous Minds territory, I remained engaged with the way Michie thoughtfully weaves his students personal experiences into his own. Michie offers an honest (though sometimes over-dramatized) look at the struggle of incorporating ideas of social justice into daily curriculum.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Kenny

    For all the hype over this book, it was kind of meh. The writing and the stories themselves weren't terrible, but they also weren't very memorable or revelatory. A shortened version of this book would have made a good editorial. But I don't feel like I learned much or was that inspired. There are better works out there on the same subject matter.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Really enjoyed this book. It gave me some great insight about teaching diverse students in an urban setting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    An uncertified teacher in the Chicago Schools gets a real education.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Kail-Ackerman

    This book was enlightening! It is a collection of short stories towards teaching, in particular with a focus for social justice in the Chicago Public Schools. There are a lot of good moments within this book that discusses and explores teaching. As someone who wants to be a future educator, this was helpful in learning about some of the hard ropes of teaching. Below are good quotes and moments I've taken from the book: "Letting go doesn't have to mean a loss of control. It is possible - even des This book was enlightening! It is a collection of short stories towards teaching, in particular with a focus for social justice in the Chicago Public Schools. There are a lot of good moments within this book that discusses and explores teaching. As someone who wants to be a future educator, this was helpful in learning about some of the hard ropes of teaching. Below are good quotes and moments I've taken from the book: "Letting go doesn't have to mean a loss of control. It is possible - even desirable - to step aside and let the kids take control... give the kids room to learn" (13) "'I Think that's how school should be. Instead of being told how to do things, you have to do it more yourself. I mean, after you tell me the basics, shut up - let me do it now'" (17) "A big part of teaching, I believed, was showing kids you care for them" (29) "Years of low expectations and marginalization, I realized, would take more than 10 weeks to remedy" (54) "Teachers need to make history more of a discussion instead of just learning all these facts, page by page and book by book" (97), when talking about how we don't get to hear other people's stories, like the Indian's side of the American invasion. Make everything a discussion, not facts. Other ideas: going out of the classroom, out of the environment, helped the students get away from the culture of education and learn more about what matters. The Mango Girls - using House on Mango Street and letting the students who connect do a project Learning what the students want to do Music lyrics as an example of poetry and analyzing the meaning

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Salaj

    It’s a nice book about a teacher and his experience teaching at two schools in Chicago. It gives an inside look at how students want to both learn and be heard when they’re in tough situations outside of their control. The book serves as a representative way to engage students, their creativity, interests and experiences. A student may not be troublesome, just misunderstood.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe Totterdell

    “Since news outlets often follow the dictum ‘if it bleeds it leads,’ we as a society are often denied awareness of the vital peace, justice, and mentoring work going on today. Young people are constantly being respected, taught, and inspired in some of the toughest schools and most abandoned urban neighborhoods. But since these stories aren’t told, we miss hearing about these examples of truly innovative programs, relationships, and achievements. We miss the audacity and accomplishments of teach “Since news outlets often follow the dictum ‘if it bleeds it leads,’ we as a society are often denied awareness of the vital peace, justice, and mentoring work going on today. Young people are constantly being respected, taught, and inspired in some of the toughest schools and most abandoned urban neighborhoods. But since these stories aren’t told, we miss hearing about these examples of truly innovative programs, relationships, and achievements. We miss the audacity and accomplishments of teachers such as Gregory Michie.”—Luis J. Rodriguez, from the foreword to the second edition of Holler If You Hear Me “My students were not the greatest writers, but, man, could they talk a good story. They may have dropped out of high school, but they held doctorates from the university of life. They were streetwise and savvy; they were ingenuous and fragile. They had seen troubles the world’s heads of state would never see. In their short years on the planet they had lived extraordinary lives, and nobody had told them their lives were extraordinary, that they were extraordinary for having survived. Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes those first years. Eventually I came to realize that teaching was like writing. Just as I had to find my writing voice, I also had to find my teaching voice. They both came from my center, from my passions, from that perspective that was truly mine and made me different from any other teacher. To get there I had to take the same circular route as writing. I had to be intuitive, and I had to be willing to fail. Fortunately, my readers don’t see my rough drafts. They see the finished product, the final book after countless months of revisions. Holler If You Hear Me is an honest peek at the daily rushes of teaching, the raw rough drafts with their doubts, disasters, hesitations, losses, humilities, and the glorious occasional days of genius. Greg Michie’s route reminds me how good teaching comes from the same intuitive places as writing, from a place willing to take risks and make mistakes, willing to meander off the track to get on the track, to change plans midstream if need be.”—Sandra Cisneros, from the foreword to the first edition of Holler If You Hear Me Gregory Michie’s magnificent memoir, Holler If You Hear Me, is comprised of a series of vignettes focusing on particular themes and groups of children during his time as a teacher in the inner city of Chicago. A transplant from North Carolina and a University of North Carolina alumnus, a career change brought Michie to teaching after his disillusionment with the media communications industry in which he once worked, and from beginning as an uncredentialled, unsteady $54-a-day substitute to becoming a beloved resident teacher, the highly intuitive and compassionate Michie documents the trials and tribulations of his nine-year teaching career not only to convey what his students learned from him but what he learned from them. The book is not just about the struggles of a teacher and his students inside of the classroom; it is equally about their struggles outside of the classroom as they are faced by the relentless forces that commonly afflict those living in the inner city: racism, crime, violence, poverty by ways of an oppressive economy, the omnipresence of gang culture, the destructive allure of drugs, the pervasiveness of all types of abuse within the family, and much more. He acknowledges his privilege and the distance of his upbringing from that of children living in the inner city, and he explicitly mentions that he neither intends to portray himself as a savior figure nor sensationalize life in the inner city; more implicitly, it seems as if his students were the ones who saved him by bringing new forms of meaning to his life in teaching him about the joys of being an educator despite its innumerable challenges. The book, despite its many moments of bleakness, is replete with positivity. Michie enrolled in a Ph.D. program in education after leaving teaching, and he now works as a teacher educator, helping to bring forth a new generation of teachers who will hopefully go on to positively impact their communities and, consequently, the world just as he did. He is unsure as to whether or not he will eventually return to teaching. Regardless of what he decides to do in the future, I think it’s clear that the world could use more teachers like Mr. Michie; I certainly could have used him as a teacher. Michie not only inspires prospective teachers such as myself; amidst his success, he shows them where he went wrong and tells them what he could have done better so that future teachers do not have to make the same mistakes that he did. He plays a vital role in helping teachers help kids. I think that even if one is not a teacher or does not wish to become one, any reader of this book would be rewarded with a sense of warm satisfaction in knowing that teachers like Mr. Michie exist in this world. In the end, it’s all about the kids, and Mr. Michie makes that perfectly clear.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamie (the_reading_pup)

    I read this book for one of my classes in my Masters of Elementary Education program. I enjoyed this book. I think the writing was nice and easy to follow. I love that it followed specific students and we then got to see how they were impacted and what happened with them. I got invested in all the stories and I love that it really showed you why students might act the way they do, and how you can try to still teach them to the best of your ability. I would say that this is a good resource for some I read this book for one of my classes in my Masters of Elementary Education program. I enjoyed this book. I think the writing was nice and easy to follow. I love that it followed specific students and we then got to see how they were impacted and what happened with them. I got invested in all the stories and I love that it really showed you why students might act the way they do, and how you can try to still teach them to the best of your ability. I would say that this is a good resource for someone working with urban children. While the examples are very specific, I was still able to see connections with my own students.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Michie provides a lot to consider in his work detailing his time teaching in an urban school. It was refreshing to read a perspective from a teacher who taught a majority of minority students, in this case LatinX students. I can imagine there will be parts of this book that are difficult to read for some people/new teachers, especially regarding some of the violent situations he chronicles or the strong racial biases and tensions Michie discusses. What makes his work that engaging is the manner i Michie provides a lot to consider in his work detailing his time teaching in an urban school. It was refreshing to read a perspective from a teacher who taught a majority of minority students, in this case LatinX students. I can imagine there will be parts of this book that are difficult to read for some people/new teachers, especially regarding some of the violent situations he chronicles or the strong racial biases and tensions Michie discusses. What makes his work that engaging is the manner in which he able articulate, as much as possible, experiences and narratives through the lenses of his students. It adds a perspective that does not often occur in teaching books like these. Honestly, it is where "For those who teach in the hood..." failed in some regards. Books on education typically come in two styles--the extremely technical books and the loosely based stories of someone's experiences. Michie is able to take this idea of having strong technical detail while not boring his audience to death and basing the entire reading on his own stories of teaching without feeling like you are reading a fiction novela. One of the most interesting and what I believe to be promising parts of his book is the fact that he constantly critiques his own teaching style and to be blunt, himself as a person and a teacher. And with his critique, comes the relevance perspective of the book. We are presented with a new way of looking at education, through his writing, looking at our own educational process, and most importantly our students. If you are looking to get into education, are already in it, or plan on doing some reading about education this is a good place to start.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    p.XXXI I've been trying to become a teacher ever since. p.143 He let a smile go, barely, then coolly surveyed the room to make sure no one had seen. The text is a mix of student work and reflections combined with notes from a beginning teacher. Blending student perspectives with the overview of the teacher creates a thorough picture of the neighborhood and school system. Mr. Michie presents the heart-wrenching, downside of education with little drama. Chapters are constructed to fellow specific st p.XXXI I've been trying to become a teacher ever since. p.143 He let a smile go, barely, then coolly surveyed the room to make sure no one had seen. The text is a mix of student work and reflections combined with notes from a beginning teacher. Blending student perspectives with the overview of the teacher creates a thorough picture of the neighborhood and school system. Mr. Michie presents the heart-wrenching, downside of education with little drama. Chapters are constructed to fellow specific students. One of the strengths of the text are the comprehensive reflections of the students on their educational history. The mood of the stories swing wildly from exaltation to tragedy, nothing is held back. Michie is grasping for relevant content within a diverse classroom and generates more than a couple of interesting ideas. Focusing upon the link between classroom material and the experiences of the students breaks through some of large barriers facing Michie's students. Being along for the ride of the educational successes and the many failures of the students is an excellent starting point for personal reflections. Worth reading for all aspiring teachers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I chose to read this book because I was really interested in reading about another teacher’s perspective of working in a primarily Hispanic school, a minority-majority school, like mine is. I was hoping he would include some things that went well for him, some ideas I could steal to bring back into the classroom. Turns out, it’s not that kind of book, but that didn’t mean it was useless to me. Instead, his insight about teaching, his reflections on what went well and what went wrong, were inspir I chose to read this book because I was really interested in reading about another teacher’s perspective of working in a primarily Hispanic school, a minority-majority school, like mine is. I was hoping he would include some things that went well for him, some ideas I could steal to bring back into the classroom. Turns out, it’s not that kind of book, but that didn’t mean it was useless to me. Instead, his insight about teaching, his reflections on what went well and what went wrong, were inspiring and affirming for me. I wanted to stand up and yell “preach!” because I have totally felt like he felt at some times, though I am infinitely glad I do not have to deal with gangs and that level of poverty where I teach. The book is set up as a story about his teaching, a unit, a class, a child, and then followed by an interview, a narrative with one of the kids from his reflection. It's a neat mixture of his voice as a teacher and of the voice of the students (which are the voices so often ignored). I appreciated the Afterward that gave a little bit more about what has happened to these students who are now in their 20s. It's not all happy endings, but that makes the book more real.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I was a bit apprehensive at first that the book would either be a glorified look at one educator's triumph or an exaggerated view of the tribulations of local students. Contrary to my expectations, the author seemed to maintain a balanced and honest perspective of education on the south side. I love this book but I have to say that as an educator on the southwest side of Chicago, I am completely biased. I'm not sure how it would read if I wasn't working with the same population of students and wi I was a bit apprehensive at first that the book would either be a glorified look at one educator's triumph or an exaggerated view of the tribulations of local students. Contrary to my expectations, the author seemed to maintain a balanced and honest perspective of education on the south side. I love this book but I have to say that as an educator on the southwest side of Chicago, I am completely biased. I'm not sure how it would read if I wasn't working with the same population of students and with alarmingly similar situations. Nevertheless, I suppose that speaks to the accuracy of his presentation (and perhaps the minimal progress we have made) if ten years later these scenarios still present themselves in local communities and schools. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in urban education.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julianne

    Sometimes I'm a real sucker for teachers-making-a-difference stories. Maybe I won't be so much once I'm actually teaching. I know plenty of teachers struggle with books like this, and I recognize even the best aren't free of agenda or polish. But I guess maybe I'm sympathetic to the agenda. What I particularly like about Mr. Michie is how he includes the voices of his students, voices that are passionate and ring real from my own growing-up memories. He walks the walk that matches all his talk a Sometimes I'm a real sucker for teachers-making-a-difference stories. Maybe I won't be so much once I'm actually teaching. I know plenty of teachers struggle with books like this, and I recognize even the best aren't free of agenda or polish. But I guess maybe I'm sympathetic to the agenda. What I particularly like about Mr. Michie is how he includes the voices of his students, voices that are passionate and ring real from my own growing-up memories. He walks the walk that matches all his talk about helping such voices be heard. I will note that while Michie's goals are timeless and his perspective relevant, the setting and references are no longer quite so up-to-the-minute. I first read this book (or at least most of it) 12 or so years ago when a roommate had it. And what can I say? I'm still the same sucker. So now that another roommate has it, I read it once more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    vincent Kyin

    i have read one poem from this book. this book is about this girl and her bad hair day. this girl is very pestimistic with her life. she said she has a bad hair day and met this boy. right away she assumes the boy doesn't like her from her hair. this girl jumps to conclusions too much and that is bad thing to do. she thinks she messed up her whole life just becuase she had a bad hair day. she looks into the future too much. she even said they could have gotten married. i think this girl is crazy i have read one poem from this book. this book is about this girl and her bad hair day. this girl is very pestimistic with her life. she said she has a bad hair day and met this boy. right away she assumes the boy doesn't like her from her hair. this girl jumps to conclusions too much and that is bad thing to do. she thinks she messed up her whole life just becuase she had a bad hair day. she looks into the future too much. she even said they could have gotten married. i think this girl is crazy. she just met the boy one time and thinks he could be her husband. i gues she is a sad girl. she thinks she is ugly from her own perspective. but no one has ever said that to her. she is just a assumer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Kyin

    i have read one poem from this book. this book is about this girl and her bad hair day. this girl is very pestimistic with her life. she said she has a bad hair day and met this boy. right away she assumes the boy doesn't like her from her hair. this girl jumps to conclusions too much and that is bad thing to do. she thinks she messed up her whole life just becuase she had a bad hair day. she looks into the future too much. she even said they could have gotten married. i think this girl is crazy i have read one poem from this book. this book is about this girl and her bad hair day. this girl is very pestimistic with her life. she said she has a bad hair day and met this boy. right away she assumes the boy doesn't like her from her hair. this girl jumps to conclusions too much and that is bad thing to do. she thinks she messed up her whole life just becuase she had a bad hair day. she looks into the future too much. she even said they could have gotten married. i think this girl is crazy. she just met the boy one time and thinks he could be her husband. i gues she is a sad girl. she thinks she is ugly from her own perspective. but no one has ever said that to her. she is just a assumer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Picked this up for a donation, so I can't complain about not getting my money's worth. The best thing about the book are the kids' voices. I wish there had been more on helping students be academic achievers. Yes, they need to be heard and they need to be engaged, but, good grief, they have to know how to read, think critically, and stay focused for more than 5 minutes at a time. These are skills every successful adult needs in every work place. I was moved by the Sandra Cisneros story and by Mi Picked this up for a donation, so I can't complain about not getting my money's worth. The best thing about the book are the kids' voices. I wish there had been more on helping students be academic achievers. Yes, they need to be heard and they need to be engaged, but, good grief, they have to know how to read, think critically, and stay focused for more than 5 minutes at a time. These are skills every successful adult needs in every work place. I was moved by the Sandra Cisneros story and by Michie's dedication to his students. I wonder if he's still teaching . . . it's a hard row to hoe and many teachers are consumed by the needs of their students. Hopefully, he found a balance and worked himself into the care equation.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Juliette

    When I first ended up with this book for a class in my teaching license program, I sort of groaned and thought "Oh great... Another book written by a white teacher who worked in an inner city Chicago school." This book is so much more than that. Michie is a great teacher. He genuinely cares for his students, models professionalism, learns about his students' cultures and lives, admits his mistakes, and goes above and beyond the call of his job. This book is engaging, funny and inspiring. I love When I first ended up with this book for a class in my teaching license program, I sort of groaned and thought "Oh great... Another book written by a white teacher who worked in an inner city Chicago school." This book is so much more than that. Michie is a great teacher. He genuinely cares for his students, models professionalism, learns about his students' cultures and lives, admits his mistakes, and goes above and beyond the call of his job. This book is engaging, funny and inspiring. I love that he asked his students to write about their experiences and included their stories in the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Gregory Michie does a great job sharing his first year teaching experiences through telling the personal stories of former student's. Growing up himself in a more traditionally white collar home, he was not prepared for the low income gang banging kind of area he began his teaching career in. This book describes what he did to teach students in a way that would give them the best chance of a better life, even if the student didn't transition out of their neighborhood on the south side of Chicago Gregory Michie does a great job sharing his first year teaching experiences through telling the personal stories of former student's. Growing up himself in a more traditionally white collar home, he was not prepared for the low income gang banging kind of area he began his teaching career in. This book describes what he did to teach students in a way that would give them the best chance of a better life, even if the student didn't transition out of their neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Not the typical kind of teaching story, this book is done in a way that you want to finish the book. It's a non-fiction story but not dry and wordy to say the least.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This was required reading for my daughter in college so I also read it. A memoir of a teacher's experience with mainly Latino students in Chicago along with the problems faced both by students and teacher, it was assigned to broaden the horizons of the predominantly small town white students who were training to be teachers themselves. It was both enlightening and depressing; our public schools have been going the wrong direction for so long that it is hard even for those who are fighting for th This was required reading for my daughter in college so I also read it. A memoir of a teacher's experience with mainly Latino students in Chicago along with the problems faced both by students and teacher, it was assigned to broaden the horizons of the predominantly small town white students who were training to be teachers themselves. It was both enlightening and depressing; our public schools have been going the wrong direction for so long that it is hard even for those who are fighting for their students to make a measurable difference. Yet hope remains and with teachers like these, these students have an ally and a voice.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    As with most ed books, you have to ignore the thoroughly outdated, cringe-inducing cover design. (Ah, all-lower-case Courier Bold, you glorious emblem of mid-nineties grittiness! You font of kings! How brightly shone your light, and how briefly!) Just fold the cover back if you're going to read it in public and enjoy a quite well written teacher narrative by—wonder of wonders—someone who is actually still teaching. On a semi-related note: is it just me, or is Taylor Mali a bit of a douche?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Natalie suggested I read this book after we had a discussion about motivating students. I thought this was going to be a "what a wonderful teacher I am - see how I've changed these kids lives for the better" books. I was pleasantly surprised. He does have many stories about kids he taugth in Chicago schools in the '90's. The schools he taught in were predominately Black or Hispanic. He didn't have ready answers. He often messed up, and not every story had an ending. I'm still not sure what to do Natalie suggested I read this book after we had a discussion about motivating students. I thought this was going to be a "what a wonderful teacher I am - see how I've changed these kids lives for the better" books. I was pleasantly surprised. He does have many stories about kids he taugth in Chicago schools in the '90's. The schools he taught in were predominately Black or Hispanic. He didn't have ready answers. He often messed up, and not every story had an ending. I'm still not sure what to do with the unmotivated, but this book did give me some things to think about.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten Foti

    This book spoke to me in more ways than I can express - and I have expressed a lot in writing and in conversations. I may not teach in an inner city school, but my Title I campus deals with many of the same issues in our suburban neighborhood. I believe that this is an important book for many to read - future teachers and current teachers alike. But most importantly, I think everyone involved in making decisions about public education, those who have never set foot in a classroom, should be requ This book spoke to me in more ways than I can express - and I have expressed a lot in writing and in conversations. I may not teach in an inner city school, but my Title I campus deals with many of the same issues in our suburban neighborhood. I believe that this is an important book for many to read - future teachers and current teachers alike. But most importantly, I think everyone involved in making decisions about public education, those who have never set foot in a classroom, should be required to read this book. Thank you to Gregory Michie and his students.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Javier

    this book really scared me and made me reconsider teaching... i can't quite remember too many details of this book, but the one thought that always stayed in my mind was when michie described how his class would not pay any attention to him at all... and how the only thing he could do to get the students' attention was to talk about how he went to school with michael jordan at unc... wtf! if that's not scary, i don't know what is...

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