This review is of a book I got for free from Netgalley.
I had a hard time with this book, as a middle school teacher. Part of it was the format of the book–it reads like a transcription of all the 28 days the author subbed, and it’s so detailed that by the ninth or so day it becomes really difficult to read and process. Part of it is also the premise and the author’s opinions about education, and the idea that subbing for less than a month can give someone who isn’t in education an accurate picture of the education system. The day-to-day running of a school varies so much school to school and district to district, that what the author dislikes about the one district he subbed in may not even be an issue in other districts. The author’s opinions about specific lessons were particularly frustrating, because teachers purposely leave very simple work for subs to do with students–and yes, very often teachers leave worksheets for subs, for a slew of legitimate reasons. When the author started actively undermining the teachers’ instructions, particularly in terms of writing essays, it was really difficult to read.
I did really find it fascinating to see what a day is like in different classrooms and at different grade levels, especially across schools in a district. I think I would have gotten much more out of the book if it had been structured with a day in primary, middle, and high school at the beginning of the month; a day in each school at the middle; and a day at each school at the end. That would have given me a snapshot of the experience, with different age groups of students, over the whole 28 days. I also would have appreciated some sort of concluding chapter, laying out the author’s conclusions and what he took from the experience. As well as his next steps–like, how has this changed him? What does he intend to do about it?
It was an interesting read for me, but it definitely has made me much warier of subs.