Today begins teacher appreciation week, which is celebrated this year from May 5 – 9. Celebrate and cherish the teachers in your life, past and present. We too will dedicate this week to teachers, starting with a book we both love!
I first came across the book I Would Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High a few years ago as usual by accident at the library. I was excited. As a big Who’s the Boss fan I thought it was really cool that the Real Life Tony followed the footsteps of WtB Tony and became a teacher. As many teachers will tell you, teaching is performing so an actor should have some things in their tool kit already to help engage students.
There are many detractors out there I’ve found in my search for online episodes of the reality show filmed while Tony taught. Many people think he was doing it just for the publicity. That’s not the message I get from the book or from the small clips I’ve found on youtube. His experience, though only teaching one class, was a totally realistic, normal first year teaching experience. It was totally relatable to me. He talks about being nervous so nervous he sweats completely through his shirt the first day, I may not have sweated through my shirt but finding the ability to speak the first day was definitely a problem.
Tony works hard to connect to his students, he feels their pain, he even experiences the “adoption fantasy” he was warned about. Yep I did to, not until my fourth year of teaching but I did. He talks about trying to reach out to his students. Making a trip out specifically to see a student in ISS (In-School Suspension). This kind of dedication is what so many teachers have but so few people see. His passion for most of what he’s teaching is evident, his fight to find that passion when it’s something he’s required to teach but doesn’t really want to is also evident and realistic, I know I faced the same dread of “if I don’t find this interesting how do I make it so for my students?”
Then there’s the crying… I’ve seen several negative comments about it. I just want to tell those people to walk a day or week in my shoes and then see if you don’t cry. I know I cried several times my first year. In the ensuing years I have cried at least once a year sometimes in frustration, sometimes in joy, and sometimes in sorrow. There are things that happen that you don’t expect that will break your heart.
Tony at one point makes a decision that most teachers reading probably scream “what were you thinking?” On a field trip with his class to New York City, he steps aside and has a drink. Yeah most teachers know this is a death knell to a career, we also know the need to get away for a few minutes and relax. Crazy as it is at one point I stepped outside my classroom door into the hallway and did push-ups to chill out, I’m sure that looked really odd on the video cameras lol. When the principal says something to him Tony has a panic moment. Again I know there were moments things I said, things that just slipped out had me in fear for my job though realistically that was ridiculous.
All in all I recommend this book to any teacher, future teacher, parent, anyone with any opinion or stake in education whatsoever. I think it’s a loss to the school that Mr. Danza did not return as a teacher though I understand his desire to move home with his family. Now if only he’d get a teaching job there because he has what it takes to be a GREAT teacher!