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Uncategorized   |   Feb 20, 2009

Book Review: Learn Me Good

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Book Review: Learn Me Good

By Angela Watson


Mr. Teacher (aka John Pearson, from the Learn Me Good Blog) has arranged a book review exchange with me! I sent him a copy of The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable”, which he reviewed here on his blog. In return, I received a copy of Learn Me Good. Not only did we each get a free book out of the deal, we had a LOT of fun with the process. If you’re an author and would like to try something like this, please drop me an email.

Despite having majored in math rather education, Mr. Teacher is quite clearly a good 3rd grade teacher. He gets kids. He has withitness. This man is good at his job intuitively, and that makes the book’s fictionalized account of his first year of teaching a pleasure to read, rather than cringe-worthy.

Learn Me Good is funny. REALLY funny. I couldn’t put it down, and that’s saying a lot for a person who must force herself to read anything that’s not online. Take this example. The scenario: picking the class up from lunch and discovering one of the troublemakers has been sent to the office. (This happens almost everyday to many of us, and we don’t usually view the situation so humorously.) Mr. Teacher recalls:

“Throwing food—that’s typically NOT a good thing to hear one of your kids has been doing. But then, people don’t generally come up to me and tell me Marvin has just saved a litter of kittens or delivered hot meals to the elderly. And in his defense, throwing food IS better than choking someone—regardless of how hard.”

Much has been said about the novel format and hilarity of this book (Matthew K. Tabor and Happy Chyck have done thorough reviews). Rarely, however, do people comment on the hidden gems that are Mr. Teacher’s management strategies. In the midst of reading one of his riotous classroom anecdotes, I’ll suddenly think to myself, Wow, that’s a really good idea! I’m totally trying that.

Here are two particular teaching strategies I’m stealing from “Learn Me Good”:

  • Force students to follow along when you’re reviewing the answers to a test they’ve taken. When grading student work, make no marks on the papers at all and record the grades in your grade book. Then pass the tests back to students. Tell them you’ve already recorded the grades and when you’re done reviewing, they better have the same score marked at the top of their papers or you’ll be able to tell they weren’t paying attention during the review process. Sneaky, sneaky.
  • When kids say something foul or inappropriate, have them write down what they said. Their creative spelling will amuse you (“I said shout the fouk up to a gril in 2 Grade”). After getting your jollies, you can photocopy the confession and send it home for a double whammy of embarrassment by requiring a parent signature.

“Learn Me Good” is entertaining, reflective, and deeply honest. And best of all, it presents the reader with humorous anecdotes that can be reworked to create snappy retorts to ridiculous student behavior. Thanks, Mr. Teacher, for inspiring this one today: “No, I can’t move your desk further away from his. Relax and stop acting like I’ve forced you to share a carousel pony.” Learn me good, indeed.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. Angela, thanks so much for the glowing review! I’ve notice several sales since you’ve posted it, so your readers must value your opinion! Only one point of clarification–I DID take some education classes before making the plunge into the world of teaching. So I wasn’t TOTALLY green.

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