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Publication Date

Spring 2017

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Cathleen Miller

Subject Areas

Creative writing


Bill Bryson is woefully ill-equipped for his journey across the Appalachian Trail; his experiences and misadventures became A Walk in the Woods. Ten years ago I entered a kindergarten classroom as a full-time instructor with only five weeks of prior training. True Confessions of a Kindergarten Teacher is a memoir of that year. A member of a teaching corps dedicated to bringing educational equity to students living in poverty, I am assigned to teach kindergarten after my request to teach high school is unexpectedly denied. I use my journey through my first year teaching to explore the inner life of a teacher whose good intentions are no match for the demands of teaching elementary school. An archetype of a teacher has emerged from films such as Dangerous Minds and Dead Poets Society. This teacher’s dynamism alone transcends the obstacles organizations have been unable to resolve with statewide testing, mandated curricula, national standards, and accountability reporting. Teachers are daunted by this imagined superhero who is able to overcome systemic inequities armed only with her glittering personality. True Confessions of a Kindergarten Teacher creates a counter narrative to this myth and suggests that the most talented teachers’ power comes from their ability to be fully human.