He’s the Weird Teacher
By: Doug Robertson
Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013
In He’s the Weird Teacher, elementary teacher Doug Robertson shares his educational philosophies with readers as he recalls the people and experiences that propelled him into the world of teaching, and helped transform him into the “Bombastic Rockstar Frontman of a Never-Ending Education Funk Machine” that he is today. In each chapter, Robertson discusses his views towards traditional topics in education such as discipline and bullying, but also tackles many of the topics that inevitably plague all teachers at some point during their careers. I like to call these “topics from the trenches,” and they are usually dirty (figuratively and literally), lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, and only other teachers can truly understand them. These include everything from the germ-filled battlefield that is an elementary classroom, to communicating with parents, to the expectations that teachers should have of their administrators. Robertson manages to explore all of these topics with purpose, insight, and – above all else – a touch of weirdness.
The accessibility of Robertson’s book is remarkable. After reading a mere 30 pages I couldn’t help but feel as though we were kindred teacher spirits. Achieving this type of connection with your reader while still producing a teaching guide full of meaningful anecdotes and inspiring stories is a feat to be commended. Despite the lighthearted title “He’s the Weird Teacher,” Robertson’s ability to experiment, fail, and improve his teaching practice has made him an experienced educator. His book packs a punch of valuable lessons that ought to inspire new and veteran teachers to think outside of the box with their own methods, and offers tips on how to do so successfully.
Reading He’s the Weird Teacher felt akin to what I imagine it must be like to be one of Robertson’s students. His passion for the subject matter kept me thoroughly engaged, curious, and often laughing out loud – arguably all reactions that any successful teacher hopes to garner from their students. Robertson’s commitment to creating a positive, safe and nourishing learning environment for all of his students, despite their varying abilities, is obvious as you flip through the pages. An overriding theme throughout the book is that Robertson does not necessarily highlight all of the things that he has done right in his career, but rather shares the mistakes that he has made and how he has learned from them. He is the first to admit that “I love mistakes. I can teach mistakes” (50).
Robertson’s openness about his past, pedagogy and self-proclaimed “weirdness” bordered on vulnerability at times, which I found to be a refreshing honesty that frequently lacks in many professional development resources for educators. Teachers will surely find themselves laughing at Robertson’s wit, nodding their heads in understanding of a shared experience, and feeling an urge to embrace their own inner “weird teacher” as they read this book. I will be keeping it in my book bag for those times when I need a good reminder that being myself, no matter how weird, is the best me that I can be for both myself, and my students.