"My First Year In Purgatory" is a teacher memoir with illustrations, about my adventures and insights as a Gen Xer teaching in a crumbling urban school district. In it, I lead two semi-functional lives: embattled educator by day –whose students make Damien from the “Omen” look like a lightweight, and urban adventurer by night. I witness teachers driven out of classrooms by students they can’t control, bullies given free reign to torment the weak, chaos that makes learning nearly impossible, and administrators who sweep discipline under the rug. Weekends, I scour art openings, cafes, bars and the Internet for romance, meaning, and escape.
As I struggle through my first year, I begin to suspect that that all those movies and books about the “dedicated teacher who won over those tough kids” are a myth; and that there is a crisis in discipline that can’t be solved by lone heroes.
I bought this book a few years ago. I retired from teaching middle schoo and high school Spanish 2 years ago. Whenever I lament retiring early and miss teaching, all I have to do is read a chapter of Matt's book to remember what it was REALLY like! His book may seem like an exaggeration to non-teachers, but I assure you it is the reality of being a teacher today, especially in grades 7 through 9th. All I can say to prospective teachers is 'good luck' and hope you have a very thick skin. This is an excellent and funny book (but also a sad commentary on the state of affairs in our schools). It's not only about the students. It's also about the incompetency of administration as well as the pathetic parents that spawn these totally dysfunctional children.
"a must read for teachers, administrators, and parents" I grew up in a country where children are taught to show respect to their teachers and I'd taken that for granted until I read this book. It tells us those untold stories about teaching in a public school in US. Though telling a quite disturbing experience, the author's writing is witty and full of insights. It's a must read for us who care about the education for our next generation. TES, Britain’s leading publication covering the world of primary, secondary and further education, also posted a review on their website. You should find it helpful.
"My First Year In Purgatory" My First Year In Purgatory is both disturbing and funny. Everyone knows that there is something wrong with the American educational system, but no one seems to know what that is or how to change it. This book explains the problem clearly, using anecdotes that are variously amusing and gut wrenching and occasionally both at the same time. If you have ever faced a class, you will feel your stomach clenching at some of the stories. I had to skim over a few of the scenes because they made me extremely anxious. Other scenes brought chuckles and some were touching. I could tell you what the bottom line is, but that would be like giving away the end of a movie. If you have never faced a class, my first thought is to say "Lucky you." You may not believe that things could get as bad as the episodes in this book. But if you are not now, never have been and never will be a teacher, all the more reason to read this. Yes, Virginia, there really are... More > truly rotten kids. There really are administrators whose only goal is CYA. There really are teachers who fall apart from the stress. However, the passages where things seem to be at their worst are also the stories that are the most funny. If you're a teacher, you'll relate. If you're not, you'll see why more than half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Finally, if you're a fan of the new TV program "Chuck" you'll like this book. Here the bad guys are Damien-clone kids and "see no evil" administrators. Our hero doesn't have a hot chick for backup, but he does have zany friends and the occasional almost-promising hot date. Will he overcome? Disclaimer: I used to be a teacher.< Less
"My First Year In Purgatory Reviewed by S. Smith" As a "Rust Belt" teacher this book really hit home. It is a stark reality of what many teachers face daily. A literal war zone! An out of control problem that the "powers that be" do not want to address. Society has changed drastically. Parents do not know how to parent, children are lacking respect and morals. Kids come to school with so much baggage, and then you have a school district that turns its head the other way and pretends that these problems don't exist! There is only so much a teacher can do and put up with. The stresses and aggravation are non stop. "No Child Left Behind"-has turned into "Every Child Left Behind." The Rust Belt Control Board needs to read this book. Maybe then they'll see how hard our teachers are working and give us our raises and steps back that we so justly deserve! Thank you Mr. Lebrun for having the courage to speak the truth! A great read! Every... More > educator needs a copy.< Less
"My First Year in Purgatory" I read this entire book at one sitting in less than 3 hours. I am not sure there were any sections that were slow or uninteresting. As an urban teacher, I related to almost all of the situations especially those having to do with race. I bought the book primarily because I perceived the parody in the title. It lays out the mostly dark experiences of an urban educator. Narrative of these experiences is broken by reflective musings that allow the reader to feel the psychological detachment and escapes sometimes necessary for teacher survival. This book is a "tell like it is". It rejects the glibness of the educational establishment's shibboleths "Every Child Can Learn" and "No Child Left Behind". It asks the reader in series of engaging vignettes to look squarely at the real cultural issues within urban education. Fortunately, the author has chosen with periodic exaggerated artwork, to give the reader a break from the... More > emotional intensity of the book. The artwork adds a sense of sardonic humor. The reader will also begin to make sense of the statistic that suggests 50% of urban teachers leave the teaching field in the first three years. For anyone, but especially educational policy makers and bureaucrats, seeking to understand and perhaps address issues within urban education, this book should be required reading.< Less
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