#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 7

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 7

UPDATE: I recently found out that Sherman Alexie, the author of the book I’m reviewing, was accused of sexual misconduct. For obvious reasons, I do not condone these actions and I don’t care who the person who performed them is. I don’t support this author in any way nor do I support his work. I will not be reading or recommending any of his books. I will not change the content of my post, but understand that my thoughts from the moment I read them have changed. I have also removed the link to his book because this man does not deserve any type of recognition and he should instead be held accountable for what he did. 
Hello and happy Saturday. The weekend has become the time for me to catch up on basically everything not work-related. Should I bore you with the details? They including paying large sums of money, scheduling posts, finishing a book, and taking an online course. And as I’m typing this, I just remembered that I got information about a webinar I’ll attend next week and I haven’t checked it out. 

This morning I finished The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I read this book between May 7th and May 9th, 2020, and gave it three stars. I liked it and I recognize its importance, but I didn’t love it. The first thing I have to say is that, yes, I know that the title sounds problematic but this is an own-voices novel and the author self-identifies as Indian, not indigenous. This entire book is a conversation about race and ethnicity, then, from the point of view of an Indian teenager, Junior (or Arnold), who decides to start going to an all-white school outside of his reservation. 

I can say that this is 100% one-of-a-kind, and although it is a compliment to the story, it is sad that being the well-person that I am, I had not read a book written by and featuring an indigenous person. The main character is fourteen years old and he was born with hydrocephalus, which means, in his words, that he was born “with water in his brain.” I don’t know if this constitutes a disability in and of itself but from what the main character narrates, the condition causes seizures and other health issues. This was not as widely explored as the topic of race, and I am almost certain that this type of representation is not own-voices. 

Now, why did I not give five stars to this brilliant work of art? One simple answer is, I liked this book and I appreciate it for what it is, but I didn’t personally love it. I was also pretty conflicted as I read because I didn’t really know how to feel about it at first. I even looked at the reviews and was surprised to find that most were four or five stars. Would I give it four stars? No, even though the book grew on me, I stand by my middle-of-the-road rating. 

Since the main character is fourteen years old, I thought this would read like an older middle-grade or a younger young-adult, but it didn’t, which confused the teacher in me. You see, when I read and review middle-grade novels, I think if I would read this with a class or whether I’d recommend this to my students, and the thing is, the answer is no to both questions. I would not even recommend this to a kid in my life outside of school because I think the writing style can be a bit too vulgar. Think I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle. Again, here I’m talking about the writing specifically, not the story or the themes.

Since I mentioned themes, I should say that there was one that was mentioned but very poorly handled, and it was eating disorders, specifically bulimia. It was present in only one chapter so if you’re interested in reading this book, you can tell someone you trust to read it before you and to tell you exactly what to skip. It also deals with issues of poverty, alcoholism, death, and grief, which are closely linked with the big theme of race. Those were handled really well, but in a way that I think an adult could understand, especially an adult who is aware of structural violence and intersectionality.

Have you read anything about Sherman Alexie? Let me know in the comments. I’d definitely read something else from him in the future. 

Happy reading! 

Love, Miss Camila 

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” Pt. 3

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” Pt. 3

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Hello and happy Saturday. Are you ready for the last round of the teacher edition of Never Have I Ever? Well, I am, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

 

21. Never have I ever… had to Shut. It. Down. to remind my students of respect and boundaries.

Well, yes and no. See, I have always set my limits from the start because I’m not the kind of teacher who is always “open for business.” My students know when to physically approach me and when not to. They know that if they have a question, then they must raise their hand and I’ll go to them instead of them going to me. I think that if those boundaries are clear from the start, then you can always be semi-open and will not be forced to “shut it down.”

22. Never have I ever… wanted to throw the pencil sharpener out the window.

No. I think this refers to electrical pencil sharpeners, but since I’ve never had one, I don’t know the daily struggles it might entail. Also, I love sharpening pencils, even if I get blisters sometimes.

23. Never have I ever… dreaded indoor recess. 

Okay, hear me out. This requires preparation, so don’t just have your students stare at four walls for twenty minutes. Have something available for all students to enjoy, like building blocks, puppets, or even a movie. And also, have the right attitude. Nobody wants to stay inside the classroom because it’s raining, but you have to show your students that they can have just as much fun inside as they do outside, even if you know that’s not true. Personally, I prefer indoor recess because I feel like I have all my chicks in the same coop instead of running around everywhere.

24. Never have I ever…tried really, really hard not to catch all the sickness floating around the classroom.

That’s a daily struggle for teachers, especially those, like me, who go from classroom to classroom because that means we are prone to catching four times as many viruses as teachers who stay in one classroom. My advice? Drink orange juice every morning, stay hydrated during the day, and keep a pack of kleenex at all times.

25. Never have I ever…spent an entire in-service day daydreaming about all the planning I could be doing.

Totally! I was recently talking to someone about how I appreciate those teambuilding activities schools have on the first day back for faculty and staff, but I’d rather be planning or decorating my classroom. I get it, socializing is necessary, but I’ll totally do that during my lunch break. It’s very annoying to spend the eight hours of the day you’re actually getting paid for engaging in cutesy activities and then getting home and having to make up for that time when you should be resting. Just saying…

26. Never have I ever… wondered what black hole my books have fallen into.

During my first year of teaching, I spent a lot of time and effort trying to organize the “reading corners” for all the classes I taught in, and you can only imagine how stressful that was. The following year, I decided to just select a few titles, have them in each classroom and forget about them. Did a kid take a book home? Oh well. Did a book from a totally different grade level appear in the pre-k classroom? Oops. I must say, though, that those books weren’t mine, and after losing my fair share myself (actually, I didn’t lose them, I just totally forgot about them at a former workplace), I decided to only keep at school cheap, replaceable books, and to bring back and forth from home those “special” ones I might need in a lesson.

27. Never have I ever… been unsure of how to react when I realized how my students saw me.

I’m thankful for my students’ drawing skills because other than that one time when a kid drew me as a cat (with pointy ears and all), their drawings of me have been pretty accurate and even flattering. By the way, I’m totally getting a tattoo of the cat portrait because I think it’s amazing. I can’t wait to see what my new students, who are older, will make me.

28. Never have I ever… demonstrated that organizing is a legit hobby.

I mean, can you seriously be a teacher if you’re messy? I have mostly had to rotate between classrooms, so my organization had to do strictly with my supplies and how I handled them. Keep in mind that not having a classroom meant that my space was reduced to storage closets, a tiny locker, and sometimes even the top of a communal desk. I’ll keep you posted on how my organizational skills develop once I get a classroom of my own.

29. Never have I ever… had more fun that students. 

Here, again, I consider myself lucky to have had cool students who just go with the flow. Even with my high school kids, when I told them to sing, they would sing, when we had a contest, they’d get in the mood for a contest. I think it has to do a lot with how you feel and what you show to students. I like having fun, and I like that my students are having fun, so I’d say it’s a pretty balanced distribution.

Which of these have you done and which you totally haven’t? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila