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I purchased the audiobook For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin, Narrated by JD Jackson last school year when it first became available on Audible. The sample had me engaged almost immediately, but I waited to listen to it until now because with summer break it ending, I wanted these ideas fresh in my mind as the new school year begins. I am going into my 19th year teaching high school Spanish and English. I am a white teacher who works in the hood; I am one of the reasons this book exists.
After hearing the sample, I thought the overall tone of this book was going to be informative, but entertaining, and perhaps even a bit humerous and inspirational. I was incorrect. No part of this book is humerous, and I think the sample is misleading to those looking to purchase it. The book takes on a more formal tone than the provided sample. It is about how to best make connections with students who go to school and grew up in the hood, especially if you are white. It is also about learning, understanding, and accepting the culture of a specific type of student so relationships can be built and learning can take place. It provides examples of how to do this through the use of personal stories and the experiences of the author. I think while some teachers may disagree or even possibly feel offended by some of the ideas or theories presented in this book, there is quite a bit of truth in what Christopher Emdin says. However, if you are white, be prepared to be placed in a category where we all think and act alike. Also, if you work in the hood, be prepared to have your students placed in a category where they all think and act alike. It was the one thing that bothered me about this book...even though schools "in the hood" across the nation are similar in many ways, white teachers and their connections with students are not all alike and our students do not deserve to be judged in that way, either, because they are not all alike. Everyone always has something to contribute and bring to the table, no matter what. There is always something to be learned and always something or someone to learn from, regardless if the situation is positive or not.
While there were many good points made in this book, it took awhile to hear them. The first half is a bit dull, in my opinion, and if you have been teaching awhile, much of the information is common sense. I'm pretty sure everyone who listens to this book knows that relationship building is the key to classroom success. Also, I think it's safe to say you are already a good teacher (because the ones who aren't, don't care about their students enough to make changes and probably chose a completely different audiobook, unrelated to education), but this book, although dull in places, is worth hearing, "good teacher" or not. I like how the author related everything to his own life experiences in and out of the classroom. I feel I related well to what he was saying, and it motivated me to encourage others to do the same.
The second half of the book was MUCH better, and I actually bookmarked some useful information. My favorite chapter in the whole book is the one about using laptops in the classroom and the lessons dealing with social media. While listening, I suddenly felt not so alone in my world of technology, or should I say lack of technology...my school is the SAME exact way when it comes to students and the use of computers! I'll never understand why some feel that locking technology away from students to sit in a room is preferrable to using them for what they are inteded! I also really enjoyed hearing about the alternative social media classroom activites that were implemented...so much fun! I am definitely going to use Twitter in our class discussions this coming year the same way described in this book. Even though I had nothing to look at, the examples were easy to understand just by listening to the audiobook. I love how the kids were so engaged and were able to actively participate during class time. Incorporating movement into any lesson is always a plus! Thank you so much for the lesson walk-through! Also, the very last chapter was a perfect ending to the book. It left me with something to think about, and it gave me a renewed sense of hope and excitement for the year to come! :-)
The narrator, JD Jackson, did a fantastic job. His pace, tone, pronunciation, volume, and voices of others when a story/flashback was told was right on. His performance was consistent throughout, and he has a nice voice that was easy to listen to.
Overall, I enjoyed listening to this book, but I do not think it's fair to judge all white folks who work in the hood all the same. I did not grow up at all similar to my students. I had two supportive and loving parents at home who pushed and motivated me everyday. On a daily basis, they were there to discuss anything that was on my mind, celebrate my accomplishments, help me through struggles, check my homework, give me hugs, cook me meals, buy me clothes, tuck me into bed, attend my sports events, and be great role models. Not all of my students have experienced that. It doesn't make their situation better or worse...it just makes it different. According to the author of this book, these differences make me out to be someone who shouldn't work in the hood....not just because I'm white, but also because someone like me, who grew up the way I described above, couldn't possibly begin to understand the culture and needs of students who aren't white. The funny thing about the whole situation is that the differences are the reason I stay. The differences between us are the reason we learn and grow as humans, together...Every...Single...Day. My students have made me who I am today, and I would like to hope they, too, feel I have contributed to their lives. I love them to death, and even though some days are much more difficult than others, I wouldn't trade them for anything. They are my family, and I wouldn't want it any other way. :-)
Because of the 2nd half of the book, I have raised my rating from a 3 to a 4. There were many helpful examples and I enjoyed the personal stories the author shared. At semester, I may listen to this book again to see if there is something more I can do to make the 2nd half of the school year even better than the first. I would recommend this book to white teachers who work in the hood - male and female, young and old. I would also recommend it to teachers, from 1st year to veteran, who work with minority students, students of poverty, and/or those who work with students who have challenging behavior and little motivation to succeed in the classroom.
Thank you for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. :-) Have a great school year!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
I recommend this book to anyone who teaches in a cultural setting that does not match their upbringing. As a teacher, I must first participate in the world of my students if I want them to particpate in mine.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful