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Dear Mrs. B: The Unplanned Lessons of a Special Education Teacher

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She never planned on becoming a teacher. She knew nothing about Special Education. In fact, Special Education as we know it was just being birthed in 1974. But at age 23, C’Anna Bergman-Hill found herself working with twelve children with profound disabilities. Within a very short time she began to discover new dimensions to life and new definitions of strength and humilit She never planned on becoming a teacher. She knew nothing about Special Education. In fact, Special Education as we know it was just being birthed in 1974. But at age 23, C’Anna Bergman-Hill found herself working with twelve children with profound disabilities. Within a very short time she began to discover new dimensions to life and new definitions of strength and humility. What followed was an ever evolving thirty- eight year career teaching students from diverse backgrounds, children who brought to school a wide range of challenges and capabilities. In this memoir, you will meet some of the students who left a profound mark on Mrs. B. There was destruction-prone Carl, who left her with sleepless nights not knowing how to help him; laughter-filled Lenny whose tragic life story broke her heart; stubborn Trina who also knew how to laugh and carry on with her day; and wise Craig who taught her what pure love looks like. Her daily interaction with these children and hundreds more, as well as their families, would instruct her own life even outside the classroom. Along the way she realized that she was as often the student as she was the teacher. Far beyond anything she would do to implement teaching strategies and write Individual Education Plans, it was through relationships that the deeper gifts of grace and humanity came back to Mrs. B in a wave of abundance, making up the unplanned lessons of life itself.


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She never planned on becoming a teacher. She knew nothing about Special Education. In fact, Special Education as we know it was just being birthed in 1974. But at age 23, C’Anna Bergman-Hill found herself working with twelve children with profound disabilities. Within a very short time she began to discover new dimensions to life and new definitions of strength and humilit She never planned on becoming a teacher. She knew nothing about Special Education. In fact, Special Education as we know it was just being birthed in 1974. But at age 23, C’Anna Bergman-Hill found herself working with twelve children with profound disabilities. Within a very short time she began to discover new dimensions to life and new definitions of strength and humility. What followed was an ever evolving thirty- eight year career teaching students from diverse backgrounds, children who brought to school a wide range of challenges and capabilities. In this memoir, you will meet some of the students who left a profound mark on Mrs. B. There was destruction-prone Carl, who left her with sleepless nights not knowing how to help him; laughter-filled Lenny whose tragic life story broke her heart; stubborn Trina who also knew how to laugh and carry on with her day; and wise Craig who taught her what pure love looks like. Her daily interaction with these children and hundreds more, as well as their families, would instruct her own life even outside the classroom. Along the way she realized that she was as often the student as she was the teacher. Far beyond anything she would do to implement teaching strategies and write Individual Education Plans, it was through relationships that the deeper gifts of grace and humanity came back to Mrs. B in a wave of abundance, making up the unplanned lessons of life itself.

40 review for Dear Mrs. B: The Unplanned Lessons of a Special Education Teacher

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elliot Chalom

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway Winner. OK, this is a difficult book for me to review. Honestly, I want to give it either 2 stars or 4 stars, because in some ways I really liked it but in others I was let down. So I settled on 3 stars as an average of the two, but it feels inaccurate. To call this a memoir - as the author does repeatedly - is disingenuous. This book is a "how to" lesson on working in a special education specialty within the US public school syst Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway Winner. OK, this is a difficult book for me to review. Honestly, I want to give it either 2 stars or 4 stars, because in some ways I really liked it but in others I was let down. So I settled on 3 stars as an average of the two, but it feels inaccurate. To call this a memoir - as the author does repeatedly - is disingenuous. This book is a "how to" lesson on working in a special education specialty within the US public school system by a person with an exceptional 38 years of experience in the field. As a "how to" book it is really good - she doesn't just touch on the obvious aspects of the job, like how to deal with difficult children (or parents) or how to effectively manage a classroom. She goes into detail about every aspect of the career - actually, the life of a person with a career - in special education. This means how to integrate into a new school, how to deal with conflicting emotions, how to balance the demands of work and life, managing stress, managing people … it's a very long list. And I truly believe that over her distinguished career she learned a number of valuable lessons that are illustrated well and useful to people working in special education and even those who aren't. So what's my beef? The book jacket promises that we will be getting a memoir, showing the lessons that the author learned FROM HER STUDENTS over a career in special education. That, needless to say, would be a very different book. I read this expecting to be inspired, not educated. Children with special needs are usually, well, special. They have so much to teach us just by the way they overcome their many obstacles and often live happy and fulfilling lives. The author appears to appreciate this fact - she mentions it in passing and alludes to a few children that moved her - but the instances of her really talking about this, talking about the wonderful lessons she learned FROM the children, not the lessons about teaching the children, are few and in minimal detail. I guess what I have is lesson for the teacher-now-writer: Don't sell your readers on one story and then tell a different one. It isn't fair to us or you. You wrote a darn good book. The right audience would probably really appreciate it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Judy Vargas

    I read this book with the eyes of a retired educator, one who wistfully recalls the beauty and angst of working with children, parents, and administrators. Mrs. B looks at it all with her particular emphasis on working with those with special needs. The love and respect she has for her students, parents, and peers is evident throughout with a nod to those situations (she calls "Camelot") that were magical because each person worked with passion and vision. I strongly encourage educators to read I read this book with the eyes of a retired educator, one who wistfully recalls the beauty and angst of working with children, parents, and administrators. Mrs. B looks at it all with her particular emphasis on working with those with special needs. The love and respect she has for her students, parents, and peers is evident throughout with a nod to those situations (she calls "Camelot") that were magical because each person worked with passion and vision. I strongly encourage educators to read this book and use the lessons she shares as they go forward on their journeys.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Len

    I got my copy via FirstReads. I found this collection of reflections to be moving, caring, helpful, and both personal and widely-applicable. No how-to manual, it amounts to a background on why to take on such a tough task, and what to expect (both rewarding and challenging) when taking on such a role.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amber Griffith

    I love this book!! I am not a teacher however I work with special education kids and kids with behavioral challenges. This book helps you look at the situations that must handle on a daily basis in a positive and new light. I won this book on a good reads giveaway.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I cannot wait to read this book! Anticipating good things!!! I will update this review once I have been able to purchase and read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mackinzie Kempton

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Urquhart

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Wells

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen Newman

  12. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Kimiko)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Todd Rumsey

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Schwarzer

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Hornbeck

  22. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Wise

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jill Laufer

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Jackson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rang

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Ann

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jan Dillard

  32. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  33. 4 out of 5

    James

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sangeeta

  35. 5 out of 5

    Cory

  36. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Krall

  37. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  38. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Miller

  39. 4 out of 5

    Lacole

  40. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

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