BookLife Talks with Paula Baack
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child'
Why did you decide to write your memoir now?
As an educator of 46 years, I’ve taught more than 6,000 kindergarten through collegiate students in three states, 15 schools, 17 classrooms, and with 23 different administrators! Fired for helping an at-risk student in the spring of 2017, I realized that my life’s purpose transitioned from educating students to empowering administrators, teachers, and parents to walk in one another’s shoes.
Your book covers almost 50 years. How do you make sure you are telling “the truth,” or how do you refresh your memories when writing?
Over the past four decades, I daily verbalized my many teacher anecdotes and life lessons to students and colleagues. My teaching experiences vividly permeate my soul, right down to the aroma of the school, the character of the classroom environment, and the faces of the children who touched my life.
Why or how do you think this book is particularly relevant now?
According to the Wall Street Journal, teachers are leaving the profession at the highest rate on record. My book identifies the problems facing today’s teachers. Through teachable moments and end-of-chapter questions for students, parents, teachers, and administrators, real solutions are garnered.In your opinion, what are the top three things society or individuals can do to help teachers?
- REVAMP UNIVERSITY TEACHING PROGRAMS: While the pedagogy reflects sound doctrine, many of these programs do not understand the complexities of the culture facing young educators. In examining some university education departments, I found that most faculty spent only two to three years in the public education sector owing to the demands of earning a doctoral degree. These professors do not comprehend and therefore cannot address the daily emotional drain teachers experience. The solution? Hire in-the-trenches educators without doctoral degrees.
- COMPEL PARENTS TO BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY: Lawn mower parents mow down anyone who challenges their children by making them obey rules, receive earned grades, and act appropriately. Students are not perfect, parents are not always right, and teachers are not monsters! Solution: empower the administration to stop parental harassment.
- REQUIRE ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Many of today’s educators find teaching challenging, in terms of both pay and pedagogy, so they transition to administration. Through a lack of substantial training, many administrators diminish two necessary components of evaluation, which seriously affects teachers: lack of mentoring and due process. Solution: disallow site-based management. Principals should not hire and fire without checks and balances from the school board or superintendent.
What are you currently working on?
I use my social platforms of more than 5,000 followers to convince parents, teachers, and administrators that the time for education reform is now. My blog, rescuetheteacher.com, encourages self-advocating teachers, supportive parents, and mindful administrators to effect change. I also coach acting and singing; find me at peakperformancevoice.com. My former students include Scotty Johnson (Gin Blossoms), Scott MacIntyre (Top 10 American Idol, 2009), James Valentine (Maroon 5), and Nate Zuecher (Judah and the Lion).