Dragons In My Classroom: A Teacher’s Memoir by Barbara Kennard
As a young book lover with dyslexia, Barbara found the solution to her reading struggles in Miss Gluding, her first-grade teacher, who showed compassion for her student’s plight—and knew how to help her. From that time on, Barbara knew what she wanted to be: a teacher, just like Miss Gluding.
Unfortunately, Barbara also had some bad teachers in the years that ensued—including her sixth-grade teacher, an exacting woman who called attention to Barbara’s learning disabilities in front of classmates. Still wanting to follow in Miss Gluding’s footsteps in 1964, Barbara vowed she would be a better one than her sixth-grade teacher; instead, however, she became very much like her, with unattainable expectations for her students and herself. After seventeen years in the teaching profession, she realized she had to either change her teaching style or change careers. By providence, right as she stood at this crossroads, she was offered the opportunity to teach overseas at The Dragon School in Oxford, England, for a year—an opportunity she jumped at.
In the year that followed, Barbara would rely on her faith in God to give up a lot of what she knew about teaching and learn to do it differently—ways that wouldn’t have room for her perfectionism. In short, she would have to begin again.
Guest Review by Sal
‘Dragons in my Classroom,’ by Barbara Kennard is proof that the thing you need most in life can sometimes be found right where you least expect it.
After seventeen years teaching middle school and special education, Barbara was feeling a little burned out. The year was 1998, and she had been teaching at an all boys school in Boston where she felt underappreciated, both by the parents of the students and the faculty.
On the hunt for a new opportunity, Barbara was told about a school in Oxford called ‘The Dragon school,’ where she might be able to do an exchange program where the schools would swap teachers for one year. Barbara was immediately excited by the idea– an excitement that she had feared she’d lost for teaching altogether.
After interviewing for the position, Barbara moved to England in September of 1998, leaving her husband at home back in the states for four months until his own job opportunity started in the country. Being a stranger (and an American) created unique challenges for Barbara as she navigated the new curriculum and dodged pranks from her thirteen-year-old students. Ultimately, however, this choice taught the author a lot, not just about how to love teaching again, but about who she was as a person.
‘Dragons in my Classroom,’ is a rewarding reading experience in many ways. Not only is Kennard’s prose well constructed (and grammatically perfect enough to make any teacher proud) but her sense of atmosphere, even in writing a memoir is impeccable.
As a lover of memoirs, this was a great read for me and I think it would be very enjoyable for anyone who feels the same. This book made me want to be a teacher, and it really made me want to take a trip to Oxford, it sounds beautiful!
Five stars all around!
About the Author
Barbara Kennard taught English and performing arts to elementary, middle, and high school students from 1980 to 2015 and has received two teaching awards: The Christa McAuliffe Award for Teaching Excellence and The Barbara Kennard Sixth Grade English Prize, established in her name at The Fessenden School by a Fessenden family.
Barbara lives in Texas with her husband, pianist Brady Millican, and their cat, Piper.
This giveaway is for 3 print copies and is open to the U.S. only. This giveaway ends on July 15, 2022 midnight, pacific time. Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.
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