Title: I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year As a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High
Author & Narrator: Tony Danza
Publication Year: 2012
Pages: 272 (audio length: 6 hours 52 minutes)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is television, screen and stage star Tony Danza’s absorbing account of a year spent teaching tenth-grade English at Northeast High — Philadelphia’s largest high school with 3600 students.
Entering Northeast’s crowded halls in September of 2009, Tony found his way to a classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack. They cared nothing about “Mr. Danza’s” showbiz credentials, and they immediately put him on the hot seat.
Featuring indelible portraits of students and teachers alike, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had reveals just how hard it is to keep today’s technologically savvy – and often alienated — students engaged, how impressively committed most teachers are, and the outsized role counseling plays in a teacher’s day, given the psychological burdens many students carry. The book also makes vivid how a modern high school works, showing Tony in a myriad of roles – from lecturing on To Kill a Mockingbird to “coaching” the football team to organizing a talent show to leading far-flung field trips to hosting teacher gripe sessions.
A surprisingly poignant account, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny but is mostly filled with hard-won wisdom and feel-good tears.
Now, maybe it’s because I’m not American, but I had no idea that this television show with Danza teaching had ever existed. And so, when the audiobook popped up in my recommendations list on Audible, it was the first I’d heard of it. Never being one to miss a book about someone’s teaching experiences, though, I decided to pick it up.
I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is mostly a memoir of Danza’s year as a teacher in an inner-city high school. After the initial premise, the television show actually has very little to do with the book; it was cancelled after the first semester of filming, so the camera crew and such do not play into Danza’s classroom/school life after that. For me, the best part of this book was hearing about the experiences of a first-year teacher who has come to teaching later in life, who already has children of his own, and who is trying out something that has been his lifelong dream. Danza’s passion for students and education really came through on the page, and when I listened to the audiobook on the way to school in the mornings, Danza’s passion was inspirational to me throughout the day.
I think that the experiences that Danza had in the classroom – and in the teaching profession in general – were fairly standard for a lot of high school teachers in North America. Definitely, there were many of his anecdotes that struck a resonant note with me. Perhaps the best people, though, to read this book would be people who aren’t teachers. I sure as hell wish that more non-teachers knew what our work days and experiences with the next generation of children are like, and I can’t be alone in that.
So, whether you’re a fan of Danza’s, a teacher, or just someone curious about what we “do” every day, go ahead and pick up I’d Like to Apologize. It’s a pretty good primer on what life as a teacher can be like in the beginning, and you can always move on to other books after that, written by more veteran teachers, if you’re still interested.