Among Schoolchildren: Positives and Negatives About the Teaching Experience of Tracy Kidder

1754 (4 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

Teachers are truly amazing. Inspiring, motivating, smart, patient, caring, are just a few words that describe the essence of what teachers are. Diving into “Among Schoolchildren” written by Tracy Kidder, really made me see and experience Chris Zajac’s impact, and how much of a miracle worker she was teaching a racially mixed group of children in a poor school district in Holyoke MA. The ups and downs of her experience when teaching these fifth grade students with very different backgrounds put the education system in perspective. Kidder observed Mrs. Zajac’s classroom for nine months, pointing out the high moments and the low moments to illustrate to readers the wonders of teaching. Kidder’s book is a non-fiction narrative published in 1989. This book brought popularity and attention to one woman’s life as a teacher and as an individual. Society doesn’t get to see what unfolds in a classroom and what teachers can experience on a day to day basis. Kidder was able to make readers see not only what unfolds in the Kelly School, but how teachers can face the unexpected and have to make hard decisions. Tracy Kidder takes readers through his observation experience starting at September until the end of the school year in June. Kidder outlines the book in nine sections, each with chapters within them. Besides the first section, “September” and the last section, “June”, Kidder names each section by important components or significant themes through his observations during the schoolyear. For example sections such as, “Awakenings” and “Sent Away”, are two sections in the book that are significantly important and key moments in Zajac’s teaching experience.

In order to really see what Chris went through in her classroom, Tracy Kidder described the key students in her fifth grade classroom listing many of their backgrounds and what problems and strengths they brought into the classroom. A student that makes a powerful influence on Chris is Clarence. Clarence is an African American student who causes many issues for not only Chris, but other students in the classroom. His behavior continuously gets worse, and eventually he is sent to another school during the year. Robert is another student highlighted in this book. Robert likes to physically hurt himself during class for attention. Judith is introduced as a really smart Puerto Rican girl from the Flats. Despite Judith’s living situation and background, she is a key example of how her ethnicity shouldn’t define what she is able to achieve. Kidder describes her as very mature for her age and one of Chris’s favorites in the classroom. In comparison, Alice is a student who is white and comes from a wealthier town, the upper class Highlands. She is also very smart, but Chris doesn’t judge these children on their capabilities based on where they come from. Felipe is described as an excited and talkative student who is used to being the center of attention. Jimmy is a student known for falling asleep in class. Pedro was a student that Chris worried about because he seemed to have developmental disabilities. Other students such as Claude, Ashley, Dick, Arabella, Juanita, and Margaret are other students who are smart, and bring their different personalities into the classroom.

Most students were very overshadowed by Clarence and how much attention he was getting from Chris. Another person who made her mark in Chris’s classroom was Pam Hunt a student teacher. Miss Hunt finds Chris impressive in how well she manages the classroom and how well she controls the students. Pam had a hard time controlling the students and disciplining them, but through practice and advice from Chris, she found her confidence and her angry voice, and was able to control the class. Through his observation, Kidder comes to a strong conclusion and wants to bring readers attention to the fact that teachers aren’t prepared enough for what they can encounter in the classroom. Even though they receive a college education and go through student teaching, it doesn’t seem like enough preparation. Clarence and Robert are just two examples of students that teachers aren’t prepared for.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

There are many strengths and weaknesses in Kidders book, “Among Schoolchildren”. While reading this book, I noticed that Kidder did a really good job of describing the emotional connection that Chris had with the children in her class. As a reader I felt how much Chris cared about these children and how much she wanted them to succeed. Another strength of this book was that Kidder was able to incorporate a description for each student and create a clear image for readers just how different these students were. It felt like I was sitting in the classroom with Kidder, and I was able to imagine these different students and how well Chris managed the classroom. Kidder strengthened this book by not only identifying what was going on in the classroom, but bringing up many issues with the education system. He mentions that there are inequalities in education and how ethnicity can affect a student’s quality and fairness to education. Chris never gave up on her students. Working with children from poor backgrounds whose parents especially don’t push and care about their child’s education is a problem. Students who have no support from teachers or parents makes these students have a harder time in school.

While there are more strengths in this book there is also a few weaknesses. This book is written from one perspective, and that is Kidder’s. This is through his eyes and what he interpreted and observed throughout his experience in the classroom. Reader’s don’t get to see through Chris’s point of view and what she is actually feeling. Kidder was able to descriptively create an image of the children and what happened in the classroom, but readers don’t actually get to feel what Chris was going through in the most difficult moments, and happy moments. Kidder gave his observations to readers through what he saw and heard, but as a reader I didn’t get to fully understand the feelings that were going through the mind of Chris. Also something strange was that Kidder observed this classroom for nine months, but that isn’t the strange part. What is odd is that he never mentions if the children even took notice of him or even talked to him. Wouldn’t you think that the children took notice of him? Or even Chris. He doesn’t mention any contact with Chris even though he is supposed to be a fly on the wall in this classroom. He was made out to be someone invisible when in fact he was there for months taking note of what he saw in the classroom.

Everyday teachers can encounter a difficult group of students just like Chris did as a teacher. The school that I am placed in now for my field study has a very diverse group of students who come from a variety of different backgrounds. Many of their parents don’t motivate or seem to care about their child’s education. One child in the second grade classroom I am in said that school is their “safe place”. Even though a child may misbehave, school may be a way for that child to get away from what is going on at home and focus on other things. This class is a group of sixteen students who don’t speak English as a first language. Some students speak Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese. The teacher finds ways to accommodate and fit their language into the lesson they are learning. I see a similarity between the teacher whom I am observing and Chris. She really cares for her students and wants them to succeed. She wants them to understand that they are going to encounter difficult situations when they grow up. I also see discipline as a similarity between the teacher I am observing and Chris. She can handle and control her students when they are jumping around, chatting, goofing off, etc.

She has that stern voice and manner that gets the children to behave and listen. Overall when I observe the second grade class, I see many similarities between the teacher I am observing and Chris. These two people really make me want to be a teacher even more. What I found most admirable about Chris was that she was able to give lessons about the issues and inequalities about society. She wanted her students to understand that the world isn’t going to be fair and her students will face many difficult situations as they get older. This is still a relevant thing today in the contemporary context. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, children still come from conflicting backgrounds and broken homes whose parents don’t support their education.

Chris is fully aware of how unfair education is when it comes to her students, and how every child doesn’t get a fair shot. Today, it is important to realize if the education system is favoring some students over others. For example, in the section, “The Science Fair” many of the student’s parents didn’t help their children with their projects. She called it a “rigged election” when she took notice that “The children whose parents have come to the gym-for the most part neatly dressed, confident-seeming adults-had the best projects and knew the most about their subjects. In general, the forlorn projects belonged to the children with no parents on hand” (Kidder 280). In today’s context, it is important to question if lessons are fair just like Chris did. It is important to take note if the curriculum is equal to all students of different backgrounds.


Tracy Kidder’s narrative, “Among Schoolchildren” is something that not only educators should read, but for everyone. Kidder opens up a conversation about the education system, and how it can be unfair to students of poorer backgrounds and different ethnicities. The struggles and positive moments that Chris Zajac encountered in her classroom were clearly illustrated by Kidder, and should make readers realize what teachers can go through, and how society should give teachers more credit for what they do, and how they impact students in everyday life. Teachers fit into all sorts of roles such as mothers, cheerleaders, caregivers, friends, etc. , and should be praised for what they do for children of all ages. Kidder brings to life a call of action, and a call for conversation about teachers and the education system. Kidder paints the perfect picture of Zajac’s students, and how much of an impact they had on her. Students aren’t the only ones learning in the classroom, teachers are as well.

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
Among Schoolchildren: Positives and Negatives About the Teaching Experience of Tracy Kidder. (2020, December 24). WritingBros. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“Among Schoolchildren: Positives and Negatives About the Teaching Experience of Tracy Kidder.” WritingBros, 24 Dec. 2020,
Among Schoolchildren: Positives and Negatives About the Teaching Experience of Tracy Kidder. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
Among Schoolchildren: Positives and Negatives About the Teaching Experience of Tracy Kidder [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 24 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges