Publication Date: April 5, 2019
Series: School : Questions
Education activist William Ayers invites new and prospective teachers to consider the deepest dimensions of a life in teaching. Should I become a teacher? How can I get to know my students? What commitments come with me into the classroom? How do I develop my unique teaching signature? In his new book, about Becoming A Teacher, Ayers muses on 10 such questions (and a little more) to shape and structure an indispensable guide that features hands-on advice and concrete examples of classroom practice, including curriculum-making, building relationships with students and parents, fostering an effective learning environment, and teaching toward freedom. This brilliant and concise text offers a conception of teaching as both practical art and essentially ethical practice.
William Ayers is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired), education activist, and author of Teaching the Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom (with Rick Ayers), To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, Third Edition, and To Teach: The Journey, in Comics (with Ryan Alexander-Tanner).
"William Ayers is an always-astute writer on the relationship between teaching and society; he is critical, funny, philosophical, poetic, warm."
"Ayers’s short book is not short of encouraging vision, and his diagnosis of some of the systemic problems of education is insightful. "
—Community Literacy Journal
“Written as a message to prospective teachers, Ayers highlights the complexity of the work of educators while also offering practical advice. His advice pushes prospective educators to consider both broad issues of the field as well as daily decision-making in the classroom. The book is simultaneously candid about the challenges and complexity of teaching and encouraging about its possibilities to those entering the field.”
—Teachers College Record
“An absolute 'must read' for anyone contemplating teaching as a profession...unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library Teacher Education collections.”
—Midwest Book Review
“ About Becoming a Teacher reads as a combination of a pre-game pep talk, thought-provoking excursion, and vivid memoir woven together in a brief 85 pages. Ayers encourages the reader, presumably anyone considering entering the teaching profession, to ponder how their deeply held values and personal mission regarding the purposes of schooling intersect with the creation of classrooms that honor the 'three-dimensional' potential of the learners who inhabit them.”
—Teachers College Record
"With about Becoming a Teacher, Bill Ayers has created an invaluable tool, both for those who are pondering life as an educator and for those who are already there. As America continues to grapple with big-ticket issues like class, like gender, like race, it is also critical that teachers understand the fullness of their role in preparing our youth as much as possible for the world ahead. Read and digest this book, and know that in your hands is the gift to help and empower students, which is the greatest gift you could ever give as a teacher."
—Kevin Powell, author of The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood
“This is a highly engaging and readable text that helps prospective teachers to consider the ethical, practical, sociological, and spiritual bases for their chosen profession. Against a necessary backdrop of a neoliberal critique of education, the book is chock-full of illustrative, entertaining anecdotes, great teaching and learning moments, and hard questions that help inform the highly consequential decision to become a teacher.”
― Angela Valenzuela, Professor of Education, University of Texas at Austin and editor of Growing Critically Conscious Teachers
“I'm excited to add a new guide to my ‘must-read’ list for teachers-to-be. In characteristically straightforward, honest, and empathetic tones, Ayers lays out the fundamental questions that should keep us all up at night—teachers and non-teachers alike. This is a delight of a little book.”
― Eve L. Ewing, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
"Wow, do I wish I could have read this book, not only when I was just starting to teach, but every year since. William Ayers asks questions that we commonly associate with aspiring teachers, but artfully poses responses that dissociate us from taken-for-granted notions of education, even for the most veteran among us. Rather than instruct in how to become any prevailing image of 'teacher,' this breathtaking book surfaces the contradictions of teaching towards democracy and invites us to never stop reimagining ourselves as teachers who advance justice precisely by troubling the very act of teaching."
―Kevin Kumashiro, Kevin Kumashiro Consulting, and author of Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture
Singing in Dark Times: A Series Introduction by William Ayers
Chapter 1. Should I Become a Teacher?
Chapter 2. What Practical Steps Can I Take Right Now to Prepare for a Life in Teaching?
Chapter 3. How Can I Get to Know My Students?
Chapter 4. How Do I Create an Outstanding Learning Environment?
Chapter 5. What Is My Role in Curriculum-Making?
Chapter 6. What Is My Part in Student Assessment in an Era of High-Stakes Standardized Testing?
Chapter 7. How Can I Create Some Productive Classroom Arrangements and a Bit of Positive Forward Motion with a Group of Energetic (or Disruptive!) Kids?
Chapter 8. How Do I Work with Parents (and with Colleagues/Administrators)?
Chapter 9. How Should I Develop My Own Unique Teaching Signature?
Chapter 10. What Commitments Should I Bring with Me into the Classroom?
Afterword: The First Day of School Has Arrived! Ready . . . Set . . . TEACH!
About the Author