Teacher Misery

This review was previously published on Goodreads.

The title describes this book perfectly: miserable.

I kept waiting. Waiting for the light-hearted moments, for the “this is why it’s all worth it” stories.

There weren’t any.

No, this is just a person who hates her job.

It’s hard to say which is most disturbing: the stories she tells about her severely troubled, needy students, or the hateful attitude with which she relives the stories.

Ms. Morris has no empathy, despite working with children who need it badly.

She complains about special needs students, claiming that, in regard to their accommodations, “I don’t have a problem with this, for those students who actually have this disorder,” yet continually demonstrates her lack of willingness to help these students.

One brief section of Part I excerpted actual student essays. In the midst of a selection of ridiculous, off-topic, and even somewhat offensive essays, there is a short paragraph in which a child admits to cutting him or herself, and wearing certain clothes to cover up the scars. The essay is a brief, tragic cry for help, yet Ms. Morris lumps it in with the rest, and we are left to wonder about this poor child, since we can assume that she never stepped in to advocate for him or her.

Part II, which focuses on parents and the difficulties they present, is the weakest section. I suppose this is why she spends several pages (on my Kindle version) transcribing a student’s neuropsychological evaluation, which was emailed from the student’s mother to his school support team. It serves as little purpose in the book as it did in real life, as she noted “No one responded to this email and Bob failed all of his classes.” When she relates that Bob found success with an Internet start-up, she ends the section with “Fuck Bob.”

Part III deals with the actual problems in education: the way our system is imbalanced, the lack of administrative support for teachers, the money that is being funneled towards private companies such as Pearson, rather than going to the schools that need it.

By the time I got there, though, I felt defeated. I wish Ms. Morris hadn’t used a pseudonym; her future students need to know her name so they can avoid taking her class, if at all possible.

I got this book on sale for $0.99, and I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. This book paints educators in a terrible light, one in which we’re all just as mean, snarky, and sarcastic towards our students and our careers as Ms. Morris.

And we are not. I promise you, we are not.

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