The teachers A year inside America's most vulnerable, important profession

Alexandra Robbins, 1976-

Book - 2023

"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 a...t 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"--

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Case studies
[New York, New York] : Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2023]
First edition
Item Description
Place of publication from the publisher's website.
Physical Description
viii, 372 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 345-372).
Main Author
Alexandra Robbins, 1976- (author)
  • Prologue
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • Epilogue.
Review by Booklist Review

Teaching is a time-honored profession but lately has become something of a nightmare. Teachers are underpaid, overworked, and abused both verbally and physically by parents. Robbins takes readers through a school year, allowing teachers from all parts of the country and all subject areas to tell their stories. As readers get to know these individuals, they will develop a close feeling of commiseration for their struggles and successes. Robbins worked as a substitute teacher for a year to enhance the authenticity of her telling. Throughout the book are surprising revelations; for example, teachers are five times more likely to need a second job to make ends meet than other full-time workers, even though many teachers fund their classrooms' needs. The plight of school librarians may even be worse. Do the amazing, uplifting "aha" moments of the students outweigh the helicopter and bulldozer parents and bullying colleagues? The steady, measured prose doesn't diminish the drama of the situation, making this something that should be read by anyone interested in the state of education today.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Investigative reporter Robbins (The Nurses) takes a deep dive into what being a teacher is really like by following three teachers on a month-by-month journey through the school year. The stories of Rebecca, an elementary school teacher; Penny, a sixth-grade math teacher; and Miguel, a middle school special education teacher, provide detailed views of the challenges and joys the year brings. Robbins takes close looks at various teaching-related topics in connection with their stories, from school staffing difficulties to stereotypes about teachers of certain subject areas. She also peppers each topic with comments from a variety of teachers across the United States about their own experiences. This thoughtful, page-turning work gives insight into the day-to-day lives and concerns of teachers, both inside and outside of their work; the time-intensive workload of teaching is a recurring theme. VERDICT This involving look at the teaching profession is recommended for any library with an education collection and where there is community interest.--A. Gray

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A revealing exploration of the current state of the teaching profession. In her latest, Robbins, bestselling author of The Nurses, The Overachievers, Pledged, Fraternity, and other behind-the-scenes examinations, takes us into schools in America. The author followed three teachers from various regions of the country over the course of a school year, and she interviewed hundreds of others, providing an intimate view into the daily lives of educators. Even before the pandemic, writes Robbins, "the education landscape had already darkened considerably." The rapidly deteriorating conditions at schools during the pandemic led to an exodus of many well-qualified educators from the profession as well as a shortage of substitute teachers. The pandemic also "further exposed the nation's shameful mistreatment of teachers, which remains underaddressed." According to the research that Robbins presents in this book, teachers are often subjected to toxic working conditions while they struggle to educate our nation's children and are not offered the same respect as people in other professions. Teachers often face outrageous and overwhelming demands from parents and administrators as well as hostile cliques and bullying from co-workers. In addition to violence in schools, they now must contend with the growing movements to ban books and censor classroom material. Despite the increased demands and responsibilities placed on teachers, including the pressures of standardized testing and larger class sizes, they continue to remain underpaid. Refreshingly, the author also spotlights teachers who have chosen to remain in the profession despite the myriad challenges, sharing inspiring stories from the teachers she interviewed as well as tips and suggestions regarding how to better interact with students, parents, and colleagues. Some of the stories contain harsh language and very personal details about the lives of the teachers, but these narratives help illustrate her point that teachers deserve far more respect--and compensation--than they currently receive. An important and eye-opening book that all parents, teachers, and educational administrators should read. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.