It's a Teacher's Life...!

Humor, Poetry, Education & Textbooks

By Helena Harper

Publisher : Harper Books

ABOUT Helena Harper

Helena Harper
I'm a poet, children's author and teacher. My aim with my writing is to try to give people joy, laughter, some food for thought, and to try and bring some inspiring messages to my readers. I like to write poetry for adults and picture books/early readers. My first two books are stories in More...


No doubt you remember your life at school as a pupil - the long lessons, stringent rules, chaotic classrooms - but what was it like from the teacher's perspective? Did they savour the experience of setting and marking our homework? Did they get a kick out of writing our reports? And, most intriguingly, what did they get up to in the staffroom? If it's all been a mystery up till now, you need to follow Helena Harper into this alternative school world of coffee addiction, frantic marking, lesson-planning and inspections. She answers all of your questions and more, and her insightful, evocative and often sardonic descriptions leave you more appreciative of the trials and tribulations (and occasional pleasures) of being the dragon in front of the whiteboard. It's a Teacher's Life...! will open the eyes of pupils who always thought that teachers didn't exist outside of school hours... On the other hand, with such a long roll-call of meetings, assessments and after-hours activities, perhaps they were right all along! 

This collection of anecdotes and character sketches in free verse was inspired by my own experiences as a teacher in a girls' school in the U.K. It's a collection that's designed primarily to entertain, but also to give the reader pause for thought about whether our education system is really serving the best interests of our children. Another of my aims was to give non-teachers a better insight into what it actually means to be a teacher, so often a misunderstood profession! The book has now been republished under the imprint of Harper Books.

A Work With Feeling. By Don Blankenship, Amazon Top 100 Reviewer, 5 stars 
"Free verse has become a universal mode for expressing thoughts, feelings, reality and unreality for many. Some writers write very bad verse (I find myself in this category), while others have mastered its form and are able to use it as a sharp tool, a soft pillow for pleasing landings and most importantly, sharing the many little pieces of their world with others. Helena Harper is quite obviously one of those with the skill and the feelings to accomplish the last mentioned... I have to admit that without exception I enjoyed each of the twenty offerings in this wonderful little book. As I read each piece, I could actually feel the happiness, frustrations, and indeed a twinge of anger and sadness here and there...

This is a wonderful collection of poems that were written from the heart. This work would be an absolute wonderful gift for any teacher in your life; it would be a wonderful gift and read for anyone wishing to understand not only teachers, but all people who dedicate their lives to service. Love this small glimpse into a remarkable woman's life, and I do hope more is to follow."

he Other Side of the Front Desk. By Grady Harp, Amazon Top 10 Reviewer, 4 stars 
"...Harper writes with disarming clarity, poems unfettered by constraints of rhyme or meter, but instead allows her thoughts and reactions to many many aspects of education to flow like a private conversation. Of particular interest is the inclusion of the many non-teacher personnel in a private girls' school - the caretaker, the cook, the matron - giving the reader not only entertainment but insights into some of the differences between public and private education. This is a fine book for teachers, for parents, and for students who strive to make sense out of the idiosyncrasies of that person in front of the white/black board in the world of the classroom. Highly entertaining, well-written poetry."
A Teacher's Life in Poetry. By Robin Friedman, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, 4 stars
 "...In a short, light way, Harper's book explores the frustrations of the teacher's life. Through the short term difficulty and travail, she captures something of its significance as well. This is a delightful little book."

 The Inside Teaching Perspective for Everyone. By T. Turner “Tiffany Turner”,
5 stars
"I ordered this book on-line since I am a teacher myself. I was interested to see what a book of poetry on teaching would contain. I really found it to be a breath of fresh air in the hoopla of preparing for State Testing. Ms. Harper really gives the reader a teacher's perspective in a humorous fashion. You can really understand the everyday ups and downs a teacher goes through each day or week, and even during the school year.

It was wonderful to see that in the world of teaching, you're not alone in your dedication. I really enjoyed her variation of subjects relating to the field, such as "The Workplace", "The Trips" (Field Trips), "The Staffroom", and "The Duties". Her book has you travel through the school year, experiencing all of the trials a teacher faces. Many of my students were startled by my laughter during DEAR (Drop-Everything-And-Read) time, as I chuckled again and again.

For American readers, it may be a bit different from the school experiences in the States. The school setting is a girls school in England, and may describe school format and procedure different from American Schools. But it does make it interesting in the sense that you can learn what schools are like in other countries." 

Review in Summer 2009 edition of Attain magazine (a magazine for prep schools in the UK)
"Amy, the Able - school administrator and 'Queen of Resources' - and Emilio - 'caretaker unique' - are just two of the lifelike cast of characters assembled by Helena Harper in this enjoyable, witty and insightful trip down memory lane.

I hadn't read poetry since I skipped out of my A level English exams and didn't initially jump at the idea of reading a poetry book set in a girls' private school and written by a teacher. Would it be funny? Could it be, even? I wasn't aware of any of my teachers being poets and I wasn't sure that the everyday minutiae of school would make for Good Poetry, as defined by the narrow constraints of the A level curriculum.
I was in for a surprise and an enjoyable reintroduction to poetry...Helena Harper's poems have a warm, conversational style, almost as if the teacher's stream of consciousness were noted down as poetry...[and the author] has an incisive, dry wit that makes you want to read on..."

Link to full review: