Most of you already know that I’m a teacher, but for any new readers here – I’m a high school English teacher. New to my blog or not, you may also know that I love to read (when I’m not exhausted from work) and so a nice perk of blogging has been the opportunity to have books sent to me for review. The latest book I’ve had the chance to read is Captured Fireflies by Meredith Newlin – also an English teacher! I was actually specifically sent this book because I’m a teacher. Talk about worlds colliding!
In Captured Fireflies, Meredith talks about her teaching career thus far. As a teacher for the past 13 years, she reflects on what she has learned as a teacher and offers her insights, tips, and tricks. I like that her approach is expressly not to teach readers pedagogy or lecture, but just to offer her honest experiences in hopes that others will take from it what they will.
This is my 7th year teaching full time. After graduating, it was hard to find a teaching position and I subbed for a while until I got a job at the school I’m at now. I found the book to be really relatable and while every school and district is different, I think any teacher can relate to aspects of the book. We all have years where the students are more difficult to manage than other years. We all have had that one student that just drives us up the wall or the student that is a bit of a troublemaker, but for some reason you have a soft spot for him/her. We all have that student that you just know is going to go on to do extraordinary things. And we can all relate to highs and lows of the profession due to school politics, budgets, administration, parents, etc. And if you’re not a teacher and want to read the book, I think it’s a great inside look at the work life of an American teacher.
Early on in the book, Meredith says:
What I was doing in my job was filled with drama: conflict, heroism, cowardice, beauty, repulsion, anger, euphoria – all the makings of a reality show on Bravo!
Teaching is one long emotional roller coaster…
This is so true. In teaching you will encounter every possible emotion and quite possibly multiple in one day. There are days where I’m laughing all day and days when I’m just so annoyed. There have been exactly two times that I’ve cried in the bathroom because I just couldn’t deal anymore. And I really believe that I’m less patient outside of school because I use up all my patience at school. But, I keep on sticking with teaching because I love the students. And the summer breaks 😉
For me, teaching wasn’t always what I pictured myself doing. I wanted to be a teacher when I was really young – mostly because I thought it would be cool to write on the board and pass out papers. For a while when I was a teenager, I wanted to be an accountant or something in business, but my freshman year of college and pre-business courses turned me off of that real quick. While trying to figure out what my new major was going to be, my mom reminded me that when I was little I wanted to teach. I took a course called “Exploring Teaching as a Profession” and loved it. And so my journey in to education began. Some days I love my job and other days I daydream about other careers. It’s nice to know that Meredith, a rockstar teacher, feels the same way! I dislike all the ridiculously high expectations placed on us with limited time and resources, but I love working with the kids and interacting with them. Who knows if I’ll stay a teacher forever – maybe my dream of becoming a full time blogger will come true!
I think that Meredith did a great job with this book. I love that she’s not sugar coating anything about teaching, her abilities, or career. She completely owns up to mistakes she’s made and what she’s learned from them. She gives an honest take on her experiences teaching and says if she ever meets the day where she’s not passionate about it anymore then she’ll know it’s time to move on. I hope she sticks around teaching for a while yet because even through the pages I can tell she is one of the most enthusiastic teachers I’ve encountered! I read this book while I was on spring break, enjoying a nice break away from work, and the way she talks about her career with such love and excitement felt inspiring. A small part of me even wanted spring break to end so I could go back to my classroom. That is, until I remembered I have to wake up at 5:30 for work.
If you’re a teacher, thinking of going in to teaching, or just want to read about a teacher’s life and perspective I really recommend Captured Fireflies!
*This book was sent complimentary, but all opinions are my own.*