Educating Esme (or Me)


I recently began reading the novel, Educating Esme, for one of my classes, and well because first year teaching seems to be one of those fight club secrets you aren’t allowed to know about until you get that degree in your hand, I thought any advice would help me not go into the classroom completely blind. What I got out of this experience that is Esme Raji Codell’s first year of teaching is completely different than what I expected. She does things in an unorthodox way, not only in the classroom, but out of it as well. She blurs the line between what is morally acceptable and what is absolutely beyond being labeled as a “rookie mistake”. In one part of the novel, she decides to look after two of the children in her classroom and take them into her home since her mother said they were going to be taken out of an abusive situation. Granted, while I admire her bravery for taking in these kids, it is still completely unorthodox, illegal and against school policy. There is a way to follow correct protocol and protect the kids all while keeping your job. Not everything has to be made into a play for power or made into a point of who is right, which Madame Esme seems to do a lot.

Although, there was definitely a positive I can take away from the novel. I loved the way she implemented smart, important curriculum into her classroom, that not only helped the children get engaged in the lesson, but made them excited and eager to learn. She did this especially well when she discussed her book club method in regards of teaching Literature. She broke the kids up into 5 groups of 8 and gave each child within a group a specific job – whether it be the person who takes notes on the discussions, the person who leads the discussions, or the person who takes notes on vocabulary, every child gets involved and participates in class. Then the children go at their own pace, give a presentation to the class and are tested individually before the books are then rotated. I love this because the children are then involved, all feel as though they have an important role and something to contribute, and they get exposed to a variety of different genres and novels.

Overall, I found this book extremely witty, innovative and such a great read. It shows the power of teaching literacy in a smart inventive way to make children want to learn and is something I hope to embrace in my own classroom. (Minus the morally ambiguous tactics).


Meant to Be?


Reading Jenny Han’s To all the Boys I have I’ve Ever Loved, I’ve enjoyed seeing the bonds of sisterhood grow and face different challenges, like distance, family responsibilities, personal struggles and love and relationships.

However, this isn’t the problem I’m having with this “fun” read. It’s the fact that it plays into the same cookie cutter storyline that most of these modern “teen” novels do – “He’s not supposed to be with me, he’s supposed to be with her, they’re meant to be.” this idea of people being together by the almighty forces of “destiny” and love is tired and quite honestly ridiculous.

Because let me tell you something – statistically speaking, 1 out of 10 high school relationships last and most of those relationships end within the last the end of graduation through first semester of college. If you are one of the lucky few who are still with your prom queen or homecoming king congratulations! You’re a minority. The rest of us aren’t as statistically gifted as you.

This is what truly upsets me though – authors like Han who buy into the “dream” or ideal romantic situation/relationship bull crap that every girl has been force fed ever since her mom read her a bed time story that ended with “they lived happily ever after”. Life isn’t like movies or fairytales and sometimes not even like Shakespeare (although I wouldn’t mind being Juliet to DiCaprio’s Romeo).

Love in real life isn’t destined or at first glance as so many of us are lead to believe. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but that awkward guy from your psych 101 class – you know the one who you find absolutely annoying –  that’s probably the guy you will end up with.

That’s my point. Love is unexpected. It’s something that is give and take; something that struggles and yet can give you the greatest exhilaration.

A real adult loving relationship takes actual work and time to grow – not dismissing that one guy who you went on like two dates with then chase in the rain while pledging undying love to him, as Jenny Han describes in her book. And I’m not saying your first love doesn’t matter – because it does – but that’s just it. It’s your first love, not your last. And if you keep ruminating on it like Han does, then you might close yourself off to potentially meeting your one true life.

The whole point is nothing is definite. Nothing is meant to be. So stop worrying about it. Love will find a way if you let it, not force it.