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Excerpts
Obie
Trixie
Hitchhikers
A Mob is Ugly
First Day
LTs at the Movies


Twixtujons: The Fabulous Realities of a Classroom is for everyone. It's for new teachers, who may learn from my mistakes, and for veteran teachers, who will identify with them and laugh. For the wider audience who remembers, vividly or vaguely, its student days from one side of the teacher's desk, Twixtujons presents the point of view from the other side. Ultimately, I wrote Twixtujons for myself to recollect the happy rush of experiences with the myriad suburban teenage voices of thirty-two years in the Yonkers and Eastchester Public School Districts in Westchester County, New York.

The book's structure is loosely chronological; the chapters are thematic and anecdotal. Against the background of seventeen years of Catholic school education in the New York City of the 1950s and 1960s, Twixtujons begins with my early professional problems with classroom management (and the universal problem of discipline for first-year teachers) in my new suburban public school during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights protests of 1968.

Several chapters emphasize the importance of administration's mentoring of new teachers—and support for all teachers. Since the teacher's art lies in his ability to arouse the students' interest in the year's work, one chapter focuses on motivation. How does one convince students that dangling participles are worthy of their enthusiastic attention? How does one inspire students to read Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Malcolm X, and Edward Albee? Twixtujons attempts to answer these questions and many more.

An underlying theme of Twixtujons emphasizes the teacher's responsibility for the emotional and physical well-being of all the students in the building. At a teacher conference in 1972, Dr. Frank Driscoll, the Eastchester Superintendent of Schools, impressed me with his declaration that every child should feel good about his school day. When the students are walking home or sitting at their kitchen tables, they should remember something about their day in school that makes them feel special. "Mrs. Mariano smiled at me on the lunch line." Or "Ms. Dalton waved at me in the library." And since the teacher is in the unique position of protecting students, one chapter describes the unusual responsibility—and sometimes dangerous ramifications—of stopping fistfights. Dr. Driscoll believed the school building is the children's home away from home. I didn't realize it would become my home as well.

Most of the chapters in Twixtujons portray an emotional connection between teachers and students—their family for the day. I would like to think that a classroom is Hemingway's "clean well-lighted place," a safe place for students to reveal their thoughts and banter with their teachers. I hope the reader finds Twixtujons honest—and entertaining—in conveying my respect for a profession familiar to all but understood best by those fortunate enough to teach.


Testimonial:

"Best book I ever read. They should make a movie."

— Trixie Laverne


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