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Posted September 28, 2002
As a pre-service teacher and student forced into tons of nearly mindless education classes, I have had to read my share of books on what it is like to be a teacher, books about the hardships and triumphs involved in education, and both analytical and inspirational blather. Never before reading Michie's book did I find an author who combined skilled and interesting writing with interesting and even-handed teacher stories. He does not hide the hard truths, and he does not make too much of them. What's more, he does it with a certain panache that keeps the reader involved. But I have to say that what I think I like best is that every story Michie relates, every student he introduces us to, he presents them as ongoing stories, not as isolated anecdotes. The people, teachers and students, are works in progress. And that, my friends, is the essence of teaching.
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Posted May 4, 2006
In ¿Holler if You Can Hear Me¿, Gregory Michie provides an inspiring glimpse into the trials and tribulations of teaching in a high needs area. Sharing stories from years of working with a largely Mexican population in middle schools in inner-city Chicago, Mitchie incorporates the voices of his students by way of vignettes which punctuate the book. He rightfully details some of the difficulties he encountered in the classroom, but much of the focus of the text, as well as Michie¿s attitude, is on the positive interactions he has with many of his students. Mr. Michie is clearly a dedicated and passionate educator, and seems well-liked by his students. I appreciated reading a positive account of urban education, and felt rejuvenated at the thought of potentially building these types of relationships with my own students. Michie is successful at presenting the viewpoints of students, largely through direct quotes or writing samples that he includes in the book. It is interesting to learn where these urban youth are coming from, so to speak, both in terms of their neighborhoods, families, and backgrounds, but also in terms of their thoughts and feelings about school, their teachers, and education in general. Oftentimes it is easy to ignore the students in discussions about urban education however Michie does an excellent job of bringing their voices to light, and showcasing the personal relationships that he was able to form with many of them. The reader is able to begin to imagine what it might be like to be sitting on the other side of the desk, to be the one receiving the homework instead of assigning it. These students deal with more issues and problems than many adults have encountered in their entire lives. Everything from gang violence in the neighborhood, to teenage pregnancy, to financial problems, and more, are daily occurrences to these youngsters. Most teachers do not take the time to delve into the private lives of their students and learn of the hardships that many of them are facing, however Mr. Michie makes that effort. Detailing visits to his students¿ homes, conversations with their parents, and reunions with past students, Michie clearly has devoted his heart and soul to his profession. Occasionally he mentions feeling overworked or wishing he had more personal time, however it is obvious that his students are his passion, and he devotes many hours outside of the classroom helping them and forming connections with them. Many of his accounts of events at school actually occur before or after school hours, including a school-sponsored week-long camping trip, a championship basketball game, and a dramatic reading group he heads. To a reader with no teaching experience, these activities may seem commonplace for a teacher. As I read, however, I frequently found myself pondering how this guy ever found time to do his laundry or go out with his friends! His devotion to his students and to his job is impressive, however it showcases something that many individuals removed from the field of education do not realize ¿ teaching is much more of a lifestyle choice than a profession. Michie does not explicitly detail how we went about accumulating information for the book, except to say that the stories are from his seven years of teaching in various schools in Chicago, and that he attempted to maintain the original words of the students in the excerpts that he includes. He does acknowledge that some editorial changes have been made in order to fit the accounts into the text. Additionally, to his discredit, I believe, he mentions that some of the characters that he references in the stories are actually composites of two or more students. Because the book is entirely a first-person account, the reader only receives the information as Michie perceives it. Michie has an optimistic outlook on his students, and it is encouraging to hear him speak positively about even the most troublesome youngster, however at times I cWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2009
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