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Eagle Blue

Today I was sitting in the back of a classroom in Allakaket, observing what was happening there. The purpose of my visit was to be a part of that school’s accreditation process, so I was looking for specific things, not necessarily evaluating the teacher or the students, but the whole culture and climate of the school.

While sitting there at the back of the class, after getting a pretty good sense of what was going on in that particular room, I noticed a bookshelf at my elbow, and on that shelf was the immortalization of my first year teaching. There was the book, Eagle Blue, about the boys basketball team of Fort Yukon, Alaska, during the 2004-2005 school year. There it was. Chapter 5: The School.

I picked it up and read that chapter today for probably the third or fourth time, the first time in at least five years. I remember the day that Michael D’Orso, the author of Eagle Blue, came in and observed in my classroom and took copious notes. After it was over, I remember thinking that the class could have gone worse and was relieved.

Reliving it again today through D’Orso’s words, I cringed. That was not teaching at the highest level. That was not student engagement at its best. That was me, surviving from day to day. And that, dear universe, is what got recorded for all time. Thanks.

In my defense, I can say that I am a more effective educator today. Today, I would have done it differently and done it better. And that means that I am moving in the right direction. May I always say of yesterday that I am doing it better today. And as for the rest of the characters in Eagle Blue, I sincerely hope they can say they are happier with their lives now than they were when their lives appeared in the pages of that book.

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 08:51AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

undoubtedly a better educator for sure. but i suspect you still dress like a 'New England Preppie' or however it was that D'Orso described. May some things never change my friend.
February 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwatson
Undoubtedly getting better as an Educator, Dad, Husband, Son and Person, every single day. You're becoming a better Educator because you desire to be one. You're becoming a better Husband and Dad because you desire to be one. Etc., Etc. Much love for you and your incredibly beautiful family, Mom
February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom (Lizabeth Marr)
The link to your blog was sent me by a relative a few weeks before my own journey from Texas to Fort Yukon began. It is a copious blog, full of interest and good writing. As there is no copy of Eagle Blue in the FY library that I can find, I ordered a personal copy through Amazon. It arrived this week! I usually read a book from start to finish, but I believe I will begin with the chapter about the school. It is now too hard to resist.
January 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterred snowschu
I hope I don't shock you here, Brian -- coming across this site six years after that day I visited your class. I just happened across this site and couldn't believe the coincidence. It's fascinating to read your take and feel your feelings about that day. From where I sat -- and I think/hope this comes through in that chapter -- you were working your ASS off, trying as hard as you possibly could to deal with a near-hopeless situation...a situation that would drive most people out of teaching. I don't know if I told you that I taught 10th grade English before I became a writer, and brother, I felt your pain that day. A telling fact is that I don't think YOU felt it as much as I, because you had become accustomed to what you were facing, day after day. As you write, you were "suriving." I came to love those kids, each and every one of them, just as, I'm sure, you did. That said, you faced a herculean task, and I think everyone who has read that chapter would agree, and has come away with enormous respect for you. I know that's how I felt at the end of that day, and as I sat down a couple months later to recreate what I had witnessed. You are A-1 in my book, Brian (literally and figuratively).
June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike D'Orso

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