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Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids…

Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me that Hollywood…

by Mel Ryane

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Starting out as the saga of yet another teacher who imagines herself the Great White Savior of kids from poor neighborhoods and gets slapped down, this instead becomes a short course in how to motivate little kids. Mel Ryane is a former actor who takes on a volunteer position as the first leader of the new Shakespeare Club in an LA elementary school, and is startled to find that she has just as much to learn as the kids. The kids quit, form fluid alliances, lie, and have flashes of brilliance - all of which adults do as well, but maybe with a bit more impulse control. She chooses A Midsummer Night's Dream, probably the best comedy for kids, and ends up with a few kids playing three or more parts. But Mel persists, and to her credit, the ethnic backgrounds and races of the ten kids are never revealed to the reader. And the kids have a wild success, learn some moves for defending themselves and being kinder to each other, and the club continues on - with Hamlet, and with auditions for the next year. Mel's tough home life and professional failures alternate with the chronicle of the club's weekly meetings. A decent, fast read. ( )
  froxgirl | Apr 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's Member Giveaway Program.

Wonderful, Wonderful book! 5 Stars all the Way! (why can't there be more stars?) I received this book three days ago and couldn't put it down until I just now finished it!

I received this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewer's Member Giveaway program and couldn't have been more impressed. Having been a teacher myself overseas, I was instantly able to connect with the author's experiences. This teaching memoir is unique in that it discusses both stressful and rewarding aspects of teaching. There were many times when the author was expressing her true, raw frustration that I thought to myself, "Yes!" (because I had also had the very same thoughts about my own students, and then had beaten myself up in regards to my own guilt).

The memoir is written about Mel Rayne's experience teaching an after school program that focuses on the works of Shakespeare. Her teaching environment is challenging in that many of her students do not speak English as a first language, do not have the support at home as they should, and are located in an inner-city school setting. Mel describes her struggles of connecting with the students, only to experience a total disconnect the next day. Often times as "adults" we expect child behavior to follow a linear timeline, but that is not what happens in most circumstances. The story unfolds with true and meaningful life lessons as some children quit her club, re-join, experience bullying, or struggles at home. In the end, some of the children succeed in finding their own voices, while others follow the stream. This is a true book about life and its challenges, and is not sugar coated (which allowed me to appreciate the book that much more.)

I would also like to thank Mrs. Ryane for signing my book, as I will cherish it. I would like other reviewers to know that I did not previously know Mrs. Rayne, and I am not familiar with her acting career, although I am now familiar with her writing career. She should be proud of her accomplishments from one teacher to another (which, by the way, many of the most amazing teachers do not have "degrees," so never judge your worth based on that). Keep writing! ( )
  SnowBunniesBooks | Feb 20, 2015 |
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