***A National Bestseller***
A riveting, must-read, year-in-the-life account of three teachers, combined with reporting that reveals what’s really going on behind school doors, by New York Times bestselling author and education expert Alexandra Robbins.
Alexandra Robbins goes behind the scenes to tell the true, sometimes shocking, always inspirational stories of three teachers as they navigate a year in the classroom. She follows Penny, a southern middle school math teacher who grappled with a toxic staff clique at the big school in a small town; Miguel, a special ed teacher in the western United States who fought for his students both as an educator and as an activist; and Rebecca, an East Coast elementary school teacher who struggled to schedule and define a life outside of school. Robbins also interviewed hundreds of other teachers nationwide who share their secrets, dramas, and joys.
Interspersed among the teachers’ stories—a seeming scandal, a fourth-grade whodunit, and teacher confessions—are hard-hitting essays featuring cutting-edge reporting on the biggest issues facing teachers today, such as school violence; outrageous parent behavior; inadequate support, staffing, and resources coupled with unrealistic mounting demands; the “myth” of teacher burnout; the COVID-19 pandemic; and ways all of us can help the professionals who are central both to the lives of our children and the heart of our communities.
Journalist and substitute teacher Robbins (The Nurses) offers a poignant, behind-the-scenes exploration of America's public schools focused on three teachers in different regions of the country. Miguel, a middle-school special education teacher in the West, advocates for his students against a hostile school board. Penny, a sixth-grade math teacher, navigates a toxic culture of teacher cliques in the South, while Rebecca, an East Coast elementary school educator, struggles to find time for a life outside of school. Robbins vividly chronicles their challenges, successes, and motivations, showing how Covid-19 "further exposed the nation's shameful treatment of teachers" when short-staffed school districts ordered underpaid educators to give up their lunch and planning periods to take on extra students and duties. Interspersed with the profiles are incisive essays—based on interviews with hundreds of other educators—on such topics as parental aggression, high stakes testing, inadequate support staff, and school violence. Robbins provides eye-opening statistics (94% of public school teachers spend their own money on supplies; 44% of new teachers leave the field within the first five years) and commonsense solutions (better pay, more staffing). This deeply researched and impressive study brings home the fact that America underinvests in the education of its children—and that teachers step in to fill the gaps.