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9781565122253

Educating Esme

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781565122253

  • ISBN10:

    1565122259

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-04-01
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books

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Summary

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.

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

Excerpts

September 27 After lunch each day I ready aloud to them. We push the desks out of the way, pull down the shades, and turn off all the lights, except for an antique Victorian desk lamp I have. It is a very cozy time. I was reading them The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, about a Polish immigrant girl who is so poor that she wears the same dress to school every day but insists that she had a hundred dresses lined up in her closet. The girls tease her mercilessly until she moves away. Her antagonists discover that she really did have a hundred dresses...a hundred beautiful drawings of dresses. Oh, God, it took everything not to cry when I closed the book! I especially like that the story is told from the teaser's point of view. Well, everything was quiet at the end, but then Ashworth asked if he could whisper something in my ear. He whispered, "I have to tell the class something," and discreetly showed me that he was missing half of a finger. It was a very macabre moment, but I didn't flinch. I faced him toward the class and put my hands on his shoulders. He was trembling terribly. "Ashworth has something personal to share with you. I hope you will keep in mind The Hundred Dresses when he tells you." "I...I only have nine and a half fingers," he choked. "Please don't tease me about it." He held up his hands. The class hummed, impressed, then was silent as Ashworth shifted on his feet. Finally, Billy called out, "I'll kick the ass of anyone who makes fun of you!" "Yeah, me too!" said Kirk. "Yeah, Ash! You just tell us if anyone from another class messes with you, we'll beat their ass up and down!" Yeah, yeah, yeah! The class became united in the spirit of ass-kicking. Ashworth sighed and smiled at me. The power of literature! September 29 New girl, Esther, from Haiti. Dark, eyes darting, frightened. "She's got a record of fighting from her other school," Ms. Coil explained. Who asked her? "Salut, mon amie!" I welcomed her. Her shoulders dropped, relaxed. Her smile is beautiful and full of mischief. The Kids like something new I made: the Thinking Cap. It's an oversized hat made of prismatic gold paper, with a long prismatic paper tree coming out about two feet off the top. It says THINKING CAP in black press-on letters across the front. The kids have become very thoughtful since it's been introduced. September 30 Shira is Filipino and speaks mostly Tagalog. Sometimes she goes into fetal position under her desk. She has four brothers, named Vincent I, Vincent II, Vincent III, Vincent IV. Today Shira was crying because she felt Twanette took her pen. Twanette said no, it was her pen, she got it for 10 cents at Walgreen's. The pen looked more expensive than that, so I didn't really believe it. Plus, I know those kind are sold in sets. And finally, Shira had work in her notebook in that pink ink. After school, Shira's stepfather came in and told me that Shira complained that Twanette took Shira's menstrual pad our of the garbage in the bathroom and showed it to the other girls. Twanette also chews big wads of gum and took neon green glue she was not supposed to use and gooped up a whole table, almost ruining some expensive books. So when I saw Twanette's mom had come to pick her up after school, I asked to talk with her. I started by telling her that Twanette has really been improving in completing her work and that I was proud of her efforts. Then I told her the rest, explaining that I hadn't actually seen the menstrual pad thing but that the father complained and we had to be extra sensitive because Shira had been only in the country only a couple of months and had trouble speaking up for herself. Right about then, the mom started wonking Twanette over the head with a rolled-up magazine she was holding. She assured me that she would whip Twanette with a belt at home, adding apologetically that she usually whips Twanette every six months, but she's been behind schedule. When I suggested

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