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Publisher's Summary

Esmé Raji Codell has come to teach, and she's not going to let incompetent administrators, abusive parents, gang members, or her own insecurities get in the way. As she puts it, she has "Thirty-one children. Thirty-one chances. Thirty-one futures, our futures. Everything they become, I also become." Codell's portrait of an inner-city elementary school is funny, poignant, and inspiring. Her struggle to maintain individuality in the face of bureaucracy and her defiant stand against mediocrity will reverberate in companies as well as classrooms everywhere.
©1999 Esmé (P)1999 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

  • Alex Award Winner, 2000

"I was hooked by this fearless, feisty young teacher who managed to cut through all the pedagogic red tape." (Bel Kaufman, author of Up the Down Staircase)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent inspiration for educators....

I first read this book when I was considering becoming a teacher. It inspired me then, and I revisit it often to reinspire myself. This is one of those great books that makes you laugh and cry at what she had to go through as a rookie teacher, and I would highly recommend it to anyone as a great, light read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Relevant yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

Listening to this book over and over for the past four years has been a journey of epic proportion. Every time I listen to it something new comes from it. 15 years a high school teacher, and after earning my doctorate, I am now a professor of education. I use this book with both graduate and undergraduate education majors. I require that they listen to it rather than read it. Amazing writing combined with amazing narration!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Laughing, crying and nodding my head

This is my 12th year teaching and I finally FINALLY read/listened to this book. It is absolutely perfect. I work for the Chicago Public Schools and I have seen and dealt with things I never imagined I would deal with as a teacher. This is the fuel I needed to let me know I am not alone. I am not crazy. I am not the only one who feels the way I feel. Thank you thank you thank you Esme for writing this book!!!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jc
  • 02-03-15

great for aspiring teachers

I really enjoyed this book. Esme is funny, smart and rambunctious; giving a real perspective of what teaching elementary is like. Great read and even better listen.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story...well-told...too much coarse language

I love this story, but it would have been much more enjoyable in my opinion if it didn't have the rough language. I wish Audible could give some kind of indication that rough language is in a book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jessica
  • Ellenton, FL, USA
  • 04-23-07

A surprise

I discovered this book by doing a search for books about teaching. It was an excellent choice for me because I am currently returning to the teaching profession. I would recommend this book to anyone who teaches, to understand the challenges of teaching inner city children, and to find creative ideas to use in the classroom. Very well written, the narrator-author reads the book from the heart. Are there more to come?