Friday 20 August 2021

Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet? - A.J. Cattapan

Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet?
10 Ways the Gospels Can Help You Combat Teacher Burnout 
and Rediscover Your Passion for Teaching
ISBN 9781646800377
eISBN 9781646800384

Wow, what an incredible read. This was an excellent volume. Now I need to be up front, I am not a teacher, at least in the classroom sense. Though I did debate it 35 years ago. I have been a TA at university and in college. And in my current role in IT I teach or mentor both up and down. But once I started reading this book I could not put it down. There were so many good stories in this volume. Cattapan in this volume writes from her 25 plus years’ experience in the field. The chapters in the book are:

1. Jesus Began Small 
2. Jesus Had a First Day, Too 
3. Jesus Knew Who He Was Doing It All For 
4. Jesus Set the Stage for Learning 
5. Jesus Asked for Help 
6. Jesus Knew When (and How Far) to Bend the Rules 
7. Jesus Knew the Power of a Good Story 
8. Jesus Took Challenges in Stride 
9. Jesus Trusted God’s Grace to Do Divine Arithmetic 
10. Jesus Knew When to Stop and Just Let It Be 

I picked this up for several reasons. First I have read the 2 novels and a published short story by Cattapan and enjoy her fiction. Second I have several friends who are teachers. Some in Catholic Schools and some in public schools and even a few in private schools. I thought about all the great teachers I had, and some of the amazing teachers my children have had. And I wanted to read this and if it was as good as it looked, recommend it to many of those teachers I know. And I have already ordered a copy for the teacher resource shelf in my youngest children’s school. 

The introduction begins with these words:

“I have been teaching for more than twenty years. And since I’m Catholic and guilt would only gnaw at me if I weren’t honest, I’m going to tell you the truth: I have thought of throwing in the towel numerous times. This is not the result of any one bad school or bad administrator or bad set of colleagues or frustrating group of students or parents.”

And further she states:

“The burnout I’ve experienced over the years has not come as a surprise. While studying to become a secondary-school English teacher in the 1990s, I heard grim statistics about teacher retention, and the implication was always that teachers quit because they were burned out. In 1997, Linda Darling-Hammond reported that more than thirty percent of beginning teachers leave within their first five years of teaching.1 More recently, Charles M. Payne stated that 44 percent of new teachers in New York are gone by their fourth year, and about 40 percent of new teachers in Chicago are gone within five years.”

And yet further:

“If you’re like me, you felt the Lord call you to be a teacher at a young age, but at times you’ve wondered if you misunderstood what he was trying to tell you. Some of us went into teaching with grandiose ideas of being the next Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society, inspiring our students to “Carpe diem!” Or maybe we thought we’d be like Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Dangerous Minds and stride into an inner-city classroom in a leather jacket, teach some karate moves, and somehow unlock the potential of a group of students nobody thought was worth their time.”

And also:

“The answer seems to be to keep finding ways to reinvigo¬rate my love for teaching and reenergize my approach in the classroom. That’s what I hope this book will do for you. As I mentioned before, I’m Catholic, so my guilt won’t let me lie to you on this point either. I need this book right now. Over twenty years in, and there are still days when I ask God, “Are you sure you still want me doing this?” (Maybe it’s a result of my Jesuit education, but ongoing discernment seems to be a way of life for me.) So I am writing this book to reinvigorate my own teaching and to reenergize my own approach to the classroom, but I think that it will also do the same for you.”

I hope those few quotes from the introduction will help you see how engaging and honest this volume it. It is wonderfully written and I am certain it will benefit any teacher who picks it up or has it gifted to them.

The book is engaging and entertaining. Once you get going you will have a hard time putting it down. And for those of us not in the profession many of the lessons are transferable. I know that several of the pieces of advice transfer to working on a team and working in IT. This is a great read and valuable resource for the teachers in your life. I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

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