Here are some questions to guide you and your teacher book club through See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers.
Chapter 1: What this Book is… and is Not
In the first chapter of the book, the author addresses the three types of books on the market for new teachers: Professional development, inspirational stories, and general guidebooks. What does she say are the weaknesses of each type of book? Do you agree?
Chapter 2: The Ten Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You
Which of the suggestions in the “Ten Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You” chapter had you heard before you started teaching? Which lessons did you have to learn on the job, and how did you learn them?
Chapter 3: First Daze
The author lists and answers frequently asked questions about the first day of school. What were you most worried about as you approached your first day as a teacher? Were you worried about the right things? (Get chapter bonus material by signing up for the School Year Starter Kit here.)
Chapter 4: Maintaining and Regaining Your Sanity, One Month at a Time
This chapter charts the morale of teachers at different points in the school year. Do you find that your own morale tends to follow this pattern? Explain. (And here’s some reinforcement if you think you might be heading into the dreaded Disillusionment Phase.)
Chapter 5: Piles and Files: Organization and Time Management
The author talks about her own struggles with organization, and shares the filing systems she eventually developed to deal with the inflow of paperwork. How important is organization in this profession? What are some workarounds that can help less organized people be effective teachers?
Chapter 6: Your Teacher Personality: Faking it, Making it
This chapter suggests building a teacher personality that rests on personal strengths and works around weaknesses. What do you think are your greatest natural strengths as a teacher? What is your biggest weakness? In what ways do you use your strengths to work around this weakness? (Here’s a teaching style quiz that can help you narrow down some of these answers. After all, everyone loves a quiz! Unless you have to grade it.)
Chapter 7: Classroom Management: Easier Said Than Done
This chapter details potential pitfalls in management principles like consistency and positive reinforcement. Have you had any experiences in which common management wisdom fell short? How did you deal with these situations and what did you learn from them?
Chapter 8: Popular Procedures that Probably Prevent Problems
This chapter suggests that readers “beg, borrow, and steal” classroom procedures from other teachers, “… then adapt” those procedures to their own classroom. Why is this last step so necessary? Have you ever tailored another teacher’s ideas to fit your own classroom? What details did you need to change to make the ideas work?
Chapter 9: The Due Date Blues: When High Expectations Meet Low Motivation
This chapter deals with the heartache of watching students miss major assignments. Who is most responsible for making sure students turn in their work? What are the pros and cons of different approaches to promoting responsibility in our students?
Chapter 10: No Child Left…Yeah, Yeah, You Know: Different Types of Students and What Each Type Needs from You
This chapter discusses difficulties with individual students. In this chapter, the author says that many teachers have a specific type of student in mind when they choose their career, and sometimes connect more naturally with this type of student. Which students are easiest for you to connect with? Which are the most difficult?
Chapter 11: Parents: The Other Responsible Adult
Chapter 11 includes many stories involving difficult parents, but the tone of the last two stories is different. Why do you think these stories were included?
Chapter 12: The Teachers’ Lounge: Making It Work With the People You Work With
This chapter describes difficult types of coworkers, including those who are overly negative, but also those who are positive to the point of bragging. What is the proper balance between positive and negative when teachers talk about work?
Chapter 13: Please Report to the Principal’s Office
This chapter discusses actions by administrators that make teachers’ jobs harder. Is it possible to work with or around administrators who do some of these things? How?
Chapter 14: Stressin’ About Lessons
Here, we find reasons that seemingly well-planned lessons go wrong. Have any of these ever happened to you? How did you handle it? What activities would you suggest to a new teacher left with extra class time after a lesson?
Chapter 15: Observation Information
There are two schools of thought about dealing with observations: “Always teach like you are going to be observed,” and “the dog and pony show.” At your school, are you expected to stay ready for company, or prepare your best sample of teaching for scheduled observations? A little of both? How do you incorporate these expectations into your teaching style?
Chapter 16: Testing, Testing
This chapter deals with unintended consequences of testing. Which of these consequences have you experienced? Is there a way to minimize such consequences while still preparing your students for necessary exams?
Chapter 17: Grading Work Without Hating Work
Which of the grading tips in chapter 17 were helpful? What other strategies do you use to keep up with grading?
Chapter 18: Moments We’re Not Proud Of
In this chapter, experienced teachers share their low-points. Which of these stories did you find most memorable? Why?
Chapter 19: Dos and Don’ts for Helping New Teachers In Your School
In this chapter, the author comes down hard on teachers who say things like, “That would never happen in my class.” Has anyone ever said this to you when you needed advice? Have you ever found yourself wanting to say this to someone else? Explain.
Chapter 20: Making Next Year Better
The author ends the book by saying you probably won’t be satisfied with the ending. Were you? Why or why not?
Extra Credit Questions
The author mentions teacher movies several times in her book. In what ways does she seem think these movies are helpful to real-life teachers? In what ways does she suggest they hurt? Do you agree?
Which chapter did you find the most helpful? Why?
On page 111, the author lists “Ten Principles of Successful Living We All Hope Students Learn From Us.” Is there anything you would add to this list? What steps do you take in your classroom to integrate these principles into your subject matter?
© Roxanna Elden
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