Monday, May 2, 2016

Sample Reviews for Two Legs Suffice: Lessons Learned by Teaching

When I set out to write a book about education, I was driven by three purposes. First, I wanted to explain what it is all good teachers try to do and explain some of the challenges that make it hard to save every child. Second, I wanted to pinpoint the one best way to improve schools—an obvious path everyone can follow, but a path that is hard and steep. Finally, I wanted to make it clear that standardized testing was a growing cancer in our schools.

(As a bonus, I wanted to reveal the arrogance of the school reformers who never teach.)

Check out the opening pages of the book.


A sampling of reviews follows:

Avery Foster, retired teacher, Loveland High School, Loveland, Ohio

Ms. Foster continued: Should be required reading for all teachers, students, administrators and citizens. 

Carla Conti Leach, teacher, Greensburg High School, Indiana: This is a great book. Mr. Viall totally understands the problems we face today in teaching.

Lori Chisman Barber, former Loveland student and mother: Near the end I was in tears over one sad story about a boy and then a half hour later I was laughing so hard at the ending paragraph that I was in tears again. I think every parent of school age children should read this book.

Julie Huddleston, former teacher, Fulton County, Georgia: Incredibly inspiring and spot-on when it comes to the issues teachers face today.

 Brad Henderson, former Loveland student, Rhodes Scholar: Just finished a memoir by one of the best teachers I ever had—John Viall (my middle school history teacher). I recommend it for anyone passionate about education. What a great read.

Sharon Hammond Nordstrom, teacher, Stockton City Schools: Author John Viall is direct and to the point in his assessment of what’s wrong with education in America. I found his knowledge coupled with wit, humor and sarcasm an enjoyable read…Everyone working with and for students should read this book. (For those who don’t have a clue what is going on in today’s classroom, this book will definitely enlighten beyond belief.)

 Ray Bailey, U. S. Army, Vietnam War veteran: I got the book last night and read half-through non-stop. I’ll finish tonight. It’s great! Your write up of me is right on and just enough. Last night I finished the book. I alternated between laughter and tears through the second half. You did a great job.

Alisha Taul, LEARN—Loveland Education Action Right Now, anti- testing group: I love your book! It should be required reading for politicians and local school boards. 

Martin Garneret, former Loveland student and businessman: I’ve burned through it in four sittings. Incredibly good book.

Vicky Leroy Busby, former Loveland student and mother: Two Legs Suffice made me laugh, cry, shake my head, cry some more, and laugh again. 

Emily Viall, daughter of the author: (Okay, you kind of figure my daughter would give me a good review; but I think her reactions say a great deal about the book): I gasped and laughed and cried out loud, multiple times. 

Monty Lobb (thirty-seven years, mostly with the Princeton City Schools): Upon reading John’s captivating story it became apparent to me, having been an administrator in education for over three decades, that John’s highly evolved communication skills serve as a bridge of rapport that engage not only his readers but I’m sure all of his students who have walked through the doors of his classroom as well. A highly enjoyable, informative, intriguing read as well.

 Terri Woods, retired school psychologist, Princeton City Schools: Current teachers and administrators will recognize the rhythm of typical school days in Viall’s book. It should be required reading for all legislators voting on “school reform” and unfunded mandates. Viall describes the issues teachers face daily and begs the question: “Why aren’t teachers at the table discussing school reform with lawmakers?” 

Karen Streng Tiffany, Cedarburg High School, Wisconsin: I just finished reading and I’m already debating when I will start to re-read it. I know, without a doubt, that I will keep it out on my desk this year. It will be a security blanket, a touchstone, to help me hold my head up, take a deep breath, and fearlessly (OK—maybe not so fearlessly) immerse myself in this calling I hold so dear. It is read, some passages two or three times, and sitting on my desk at school so it will continue to inspire me on a daily basis.

Bruce Maegly, retired teacher, Loveland Middle School: Two Legs Suffice: Lessons Learned by Teaching is incredibly well written…a fabulous read for parents, teachers, administrators and students alike.

Cheri King, teacher, Loveland, Ohio: I just finished an outstanding book in support of schools, teachers, and especially students…August is not a great month for a teacher to start a new book as any spare time is spent preparing for the new school year. It turns out reading this book was the best preparation possible…I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about education.

 Lauren Turley, former Loveland student and current Texan: Hello Mr. Viall, I hope you are well! I was chatting with Sarah Mosby yesterday on the phone and she told me that you recently wrote a book on teaching and it is available for purchase. I am quite excited to read it, especially after her recommendation. I am a special education resource teacher to some brilliant third graders in San Antonio, Texas…You were always one of my favorite teachers, which is especially significant as your teaching graced my middle school years! I remember absolutely loving reading all about history in your packets and happily pouring over any and all writing assignments. This attitude has served me well in college and beyond. Thank you and take care.

Steven (former student, appears in book, didn’t know it):  Thank you very much John for helping me through history with my reading you made an impression in my life I’m very thankful how good of a man you are. With my schooling much better thank you; you made me feel much better about taking tests in your class when I should not of been there. I’m just thankful for having a real man at the right time in a classroom if you need any help on your house on your car leave it to me...I know too much I can fix too much and I’ll take care you because you were very good to me.

Calvin Schmieg, teacher, Montgomery County Schools, Kentucky: Such a great story of one teacher’s journey through a career as a middle school teacher. 

Melissa Popham, former Loveland student and legal assistant: I just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying your book. I didn’t have the pleasure of having you for history, my brother Gary did, but as I read your book I really wish I had gotten to sit through your class. I never had a good attitude about history, I had the attitude it happened I couldn’t change it so why do I need to know it. I got by in school, but reading how you taught and how you strived to change kids with an attitude such as mine I wish I could of had that. (Facebook; 9-23-2015)

Tess Elking, former Loveland student and lab technician: I just finished reading your book. I must say it was highly addictive. I finished it in less than two days. I thought it was well-balanced with humor and information, very reminiscent of your classes!

Joe Bischoff, former Loveland student and businessman: I purchased you book, and read it over four days. Fantastic! ...I am a fan of the book and will be forwarding it on to others who may also find value in it. If you decide to bike across the U. S. again, and find yourself coming through/around NYC, you are most welcome to stay with us…And here's to hoping that you do end up as the Secretary of Education, and can accomplish progress.

Lisa Sullivan, former Loveland student and photographer: This book is informative, charming, intelligent, entertaining, thought provoking, an important and necessary look at the shambles of education in the United States today. A must read for parents and educators.

Deana Callahan Wilisch, former Loveland student and mother: In my opinion, this book should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking about a career in teaching, and for any bureaucrat who has a say in education policies. 

Chris H. in one of 23 (out of 24) five-star reviews on The author discusses the challenges posed to teachers, students, and student's parents. What separates this book from other educational texts is that it's written by an actual teacher that served over thirty years in the classroom. He details the lessons he's learned from experiences in his life, including time as a marine.

He doesn't pretend to know everything about kids and education, but he does highlight the shortfalls of the big fixes that administrators and many individuals put forth as ways to "fix" the US educational system. A student's own attitude toward learning and bettering themselves is the quintessential element that appears to determine success in the classroom. Additionally, teaching should involve thinking rather than fact memorization.

Overall, this book was a fantastic read! The reader doesn't need to know the in's and out's of the educational system in order to comprehend this book, which makes it ideal for a general audience.

To summarize, read this book if you want to learn about the personal experiences and lessons acquired from a teacher over a long career. You'll also get some good laughs along the way!

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