By Todd Fuller
Most teachers know Gerry Brooks as the principal that films videos from the privacy of his car. His insight is honest, funny and has garnered more than 100,000 YouTube subscribers. It was only a matter of time before he ventured beyond video and shared his stories in book form. “Go See the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches,” is Brooks’ first full length publication. Brooks shares anecdotes and advice from his perspective as an elementary school principal in Lexington, Kentucky.
Go See the Principal is filled with the obvious humorous chapters such as, Sports: They’re Great (but Not That Great) and Lunchtime: Don’t bring me no Lunchable to Open. Just Don’t. In addition, Brooks offers some helpful, real-world advice from his years in public school with information like, Age-Appropriate Behavior: Finding Your Perfect Grade and Report Cards: Only Part of the Bigger Picture.
In Go See the Principal, Brooks has found a unique way to examine issues that every teacher has experienced. Hot, much debated topics such as curriculum and assessments take on a new perspective with Brooks’ insight. He echoes the opinion of many educators with statements such as, “The current logic in the United States is that if we just assess students more and with more difficult content, then teachers will teach at a higher level. That’s not what happens.” Brooks doesn’t offer much in the way of a solution to the above quotation, but then that’s not necessarily the focus or function of a work like Go See the Principal. He introduces various topics and invites the reader to discuss the larger ramifications of how each of those education issues affect their local districts. Brooks wisely steers clear of policy specifics knowing that while all teachers nationwide deal with classroom placement and reading intervention, each state and more specifically each district manages their student’s education experience very differently.
Brooks does acknowledge that there are universal experiences for all schools. An Average Five Minutes in the Life of an Elementary School Secretary, is spot on as is the essay, An Average Five Minutes in the Life of a School Nurse. Regardless of your role in a school building, you will identify and empathize with Brooks’ description of public school employees.
I expected Go See the Principal to be humorous, bite-sized anecdotes and nothing more. I thought I would be reading light-hearted stories filled with pats on the back and thank-you-for-all you do platitudes. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of tips I picked up for all aspects of teaching and the greater public school experience. I appreciate books that find a balance between humor and practical application.
Go See the Principal has shown me there is much more to Brooks than that principal guy that does a YouTube show from the school parking lot. Brooks shows that we continue to learn, even when we are teaching and there is nothing wrong with having some fun along the way.
Like to win a copy of this book? Send your name and address to email@example.com with PRINCIPAL in the subject line by Oct. 25 to be entered into a drawing.