I am not a teacher, nor do I possess any ambitions of becoming one. Don’t get me wrong – I like kids, I am a huge school loving nerd and I have a possibly unhealthy love of school supplies. But the idea of a child’s education being my responsibility? Scary stuff, man. I, unfortunately am lacking in a few traits I think are essential to being a teacher: patience, whatever the opposite of being fickle is, and the ability to think on my feet. I think teachers have one of the most important and difficult jobs out there and I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t think I’m qualified.
But Phillip Done, luckily, is qualified. A veteran teacher with 25 years under his belt, Done has some pretty terrific stories to tell – and you can read them all in his new book, Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind which chronicles a year inside his classroom and thoughts on teacherhood, children and more. Having never been a teacher, you might think this book wouldn’t have much I could relate to, but I think anyone who has taught, or wants to; has been a parent, or wants to; or even has fond memories of their own childhood (or wants to?) will enjoy this book. It definitely brought back some great memories of my own school days and had me daydreaming about the future education of my own children who aren’t in school yet.
Done breaks his book down into monthly sections so that the book starts in August and ends in June. Some chapters are funny, some thoughtful, and some are even a bit sad like his story of Michael or The Angel. He writes several chapters with lists of things he has learned from his students or universal truths of childhood. Sometimes they feel a bit repetitive but then again, I’d imagine spending 5,000+ days with elementary school kids is probably a bit repetitive, too. So while some chapters were better than others (and really isn’t that true of most books?) it was definitely a nice change of pace for me genre-wise and I looked forward to the time I spent reading it every night. Overall, I found the book terrific and I’d recommend it to just about anyone.