In Real Talk for Real Teachers we are lucky enough to hear the voice of someone at the peak of their profession. With thirty years of classroom teaching under his belt, Rafe Esquith has built on his passion and dedication to hone his philosophy and techniques. He has also endured the many 'slings and arrows' or working within the US education bureaucracy, and is not afraid to tell it like he sees it.
The result is one of the most powerful books written about the profession of classroom teaching in many years. While it has much in common with earlier works like Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, with Real Talk for Real Teachers Esquith has found a confidence befitting his deep experience. Here he also steer away from the overly detailed prescriptive advice that made up the last third of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire.
Real Talk for Real Teachers is filled cover to cover with the unflinching honesty of someone wanting young teachers to know what they are getting into. Here you will find the motivation that gets Esquith out of bed at 5am every day and brings him back to the classroom he has been teaching in for so many years. The insights that have enabled him to maintain enthusiasm and improve his teaching skills year-by-year. But you will also find the bitter disappointment of a teacher who feels that so much of his success comes despite the system he works within, rather than because of it. You will also find touching raw honesty as he openly acknowledges the failure and personal trauma all teachers go through. 'Teaching is pain', he writes simply, at one point.
Esquith's latest book serves a number of different functions. At its most essential, it is a way for teachers to connect with someone else's professional life and realise they are not alone. It is also a catalogue of provocative and insightful advice for teachers wanting to make a real difference - from coping with small-minded colleagues who sabotage your efforts (Chapter 10) to realise than sometimes 'leaving children behind' is the right decision for the greater good (Chapter 14). Finally, the book is a call to arms for a profession under fire from increasingly inept bureaucracy, and in danger of loosing its greatest talent.
(Extract taken from 'Real Talk for Real Teachers' by Rafe Esquith. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Rafe Esquith and Barbara Tong, 2013.)
Image credit to Denise Krebs.