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An illuminating guide to a career as a teacher written by acclaimed journalist Melinda D. Anderson and based on the real-life experiences of a master teacher—essential reading for anyone considering a path to this profession that changes lives.
Go behind the scenes and be mentored by the best in the business to find out what it’s really like, and what it really takes, to become a teacher. Educators are the bedrock of a healthy society, and the exceptional ones have a lasting impact. The best teachers surpass mere instruction to cultivate and empower students beyond school.
In LaQuisha Hall’s classroom, students are “scholars,” young ladies are “queens,” and young men are “kings.” The Baltimore high school English teacher’s pioneering approach to literacy has earned her teacher of the year accolades, and has established her as a visionary mentor to the young black men and women of Baltimore. Acclaimed education writer Melinda D. Anderson shadows Mrs. Hall to reveal how this rewarding profession changes lives. Learn about Hall’s path to prominence, from the challenging realities of her rookie year to her place of excellence in the classroom. Learn from Hall’s inspiring approach and confront the critical issues of race, identity, and equity in education. Here is how the job is performed at the highest level.
About the Author
Melinda D. Anderson is an education writer based in Washington, DC. Her journalism elevates and amplifies diverse voices in the public education conversation and policymaking process. She has written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Becoming a Teacher is her first book.
"In Becoming a Teacher, Melinda D. Anderson paints a powerful portrait of LaQuisha Hall and her journey from rookie teacher to expert veteran and Baltimore’s teacher of the year. This story is inspiring in its own right, but even more so in its lessons for leaders and policymakers. This book is for anyone interested in how to help all of our teachers succeed with our children, in particular, our children of color in urban schools. Teachers don’t work in isolation; they’re part of a larger system that can help them thrive, or all too often—especially for teachers of color—push them out. By understanding the story of LaQuisha Hall, perhaps we can help every teacher achieve greatness, which will only help our kids do the same."
—Joshua P. Starr, Ed.D., CEO of PDK International
"Becoming a Teacher gives us an in-depth view of one teacher’s journey from novice to master to mentor. This compelling narrative is both inspiring and instructive to those who seek to encourage aspiring teachers and improve the complex system of American public education they must navigate. We need many more teachers like LaQuisha Hall. Melinda D. Anderson points the way to how we might get them. It is well worth reading!"
—Beverly Daniel Tatum, New York Times bestselling author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race
"Becoming a Teacher tells the story of LaQuisha Hall, Baltimore's 2018 Teacher of the Year, but also that of the U.S. public education system. Throughout the book, Anderson draws on historical, empirical, and critical lenses to center the very human nature of the work of teaching, told through Hall’s story. Anderson neither sidesteps prominent debates in the field—alternative certification, standardized testing, scripted curriculum—nor uses Hall’s story to argue for 'fixes' to the problems that plague education. While readers will invariably walk away impressed by Hall’s creativity and commitment to the work of teaching, they will likewise have impressed upon them the vital role of teachers, and especially those of Black teachers. More than anything, Anderson’s book should remind us that neither teaching, nor the enterprise of public education, is a solo enterprise, and that in the end, our success will depend on how willing we are to come together for the sake of our children."
—Elizabeth A. Self, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
"What a joy it is to read Becoming a Teacher. Melinda D. Anderson gives the intimate feel of Ms. LaQuisha Hall’s day to day life in the classroom, and weaves in the research and policy related to Hall's actions and experiences. It will help other teachers see their lives in context of national policy, will inform people who are not teaching about what a demanding 24/7 profession it is, and make a strong case for why there should be more support for African American teachers in schools today. As Anderson says, the fact that the award-winning teacher and highly effective teacher she studied almost did not make it into the profession should be cause for alarm. Like all of Anderson's work, it is beautifully written and purposeful."
—Deborah Menkart, executive director of Teaching for Change
"Superb...Read Becoming a Teacher to appreciate the gifts fine teachers offer their students and, perhaps, to be inspired to give the profession a go."
—The Provicetown Independent
“A core theme of [Becoming a Teacher] is a notable, and by now almost unavoidable, shift in perspective taking place among Black educators—and other teachers, too—working in places that have endured decades of systemic racism, economic disinvestment, generational poverty, crime, and violence....As Hall puts it, too many of her students are 'already up against the greatest tests that people can experience, which is surviving in a city that is out to kill them every single day, or make them look bad.'”