Friday, June 17, 2022

Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard


Dragons In My Classroom: A Teacher’s Memoir by Barbara Kennard

Publisher: She Writes Press, (June 14, 2022)
Category: Memoir, Educator Biographies, Mid-Life Management, Inspirational
Tour dates: June 15, 2022-July 15, 2022
ISBN: 978-1647423650
Available in Print and ebook, 224 pages

Description Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard

As a young book lover with dyslexia, Barbara found the solution to her reading struggles in Miss Gluding, her first-grade teacher, who showed compassion for her student’s plight—and knew how to help her. From that time on, Barbara knew what she wanted to be: a teacher, just like Miss Gluding.

Unfortunately, Barbara also had some bad teachers in the years that ensued—including her sixth-grade teacher, an exacting woman who called attention to Barbara’s learning disabilities in front of classmates. Still wanting to follow in Miss Gluding’s footsteps in 1964, Barbara vowed she would be a better one than her sixth-grade teacher; instead, however, she became very much like her, with unattainable expectations for her students and herself. After seventeen years in the teaching profession, she realized she had to either change her teaching style or change careers. By providence, right as she stood at this crossroads, she was offered the opportunity to teach overseas at The Dragon School in Oxford, England, for a year—an opportunity she jumped at.

In the year that followed, Barbara would rely on her faith in God to give up a lot of what she knew about teaching and learn to do it differently—ways that wouldn’t have room for her perfectionism. In short, she would have to begin again.
Advance Praise Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard

“In this memoir, an English/dramatic arts teacher recounts a pivotal year at the Dragon School in Britain as part of an exchange program. . . . engaging and thought-provoking. . . . will be of special interest to aspiring as well as seasoned teachers. A well-crafted account about the search for greater flexibility when confronting life’s inevitable challenges.”—Kirkus Reviews

“ . . . engaging . . . This book is an endearing testament to the power of personal growth and reflection in one teacher’s incredibly rich professional life.”—StoryCircle Book Reviews

“In this memoir, Barbara Kennard so expertly captures the array of experiences that teachers encounter—the high and the low, the heartwarming and the hilarious. During her year teaching in Oxford, she comes to learn a new way of approaching both her classroom and her life that makes for an incredibly engaging read. Teachers everywhere will love this book.”—Nadine Kenney Johnstone, writing coach and award-winning author of Of This Much I’m Sure: A Memoir

“For any who struggle to distinguish between perfectionism and a yearning to grow into the fullest version of who God has created us to be, this book is a balm. Barbara Kennard writes candidly and compassionately about the people and places that taught her about self-acceptance and mercy. Her love of great writers and her appreciation for those she teaches and those who teach her shine through in vivid prose and engaging stories. Kennard is a lifelong educator. With humor, honesty, and self-awareness, this book invites readers to learn lessons alongside her about forgiveness, surrender, grace, and love.”—Dr. Jennifer Howe Peace, coeditor of My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation and Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field

“The story of Barbara Kennard’s quest should inspire anyone who feels a calling to seek patiently for the best way to answer it and put it into play. This wise memoir should also remind us that although perfection can never be attained, we stand to have a lot of fun in the pursuit.”—David Smith, author of Be a Teacher: A Memoir in Ten Ideas

Review Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard

Review by Suzie

“I have goals that I hope and pray will make me a better teacher an enrich my life beyond what I can envision right now. Indeed, the creator of the universe gives us far more than we can ask for or imagine.”

I absolutely devoured this book in only a few hours. As a lover of a good memoir, 'Dragons in my Classroom,' by Barbara Kennard hit every point on my list.

  • Interesting premise
  • Excellent execution
  • Relatable author
  • Teaches me something along the way

And speaking of teaching, that is what this memoir is primarily about. More specifically, 'Dragons in my Classroom,' is about a woman named Barbara Kennard and her career in teaching.

Kennard knew that she wanted to be a teacher from the time that she was six years old. Watching her first-grade teacher, Miss Gluding be both kind and firm made her realize, even as a young girl that she wanted to influence children in the same way when she grew up.

Starting out at a Montessori school in 1983, Kennard spent the next seventeen years teaching, occasionally moving to different schools when she felt that it was time. However, in the early weeks of 1997, Kennard felt entirely burned out.

She was teaching at a school called Fessenden in Boston, an all-boys school that she had initially loved but that she had recently begun to feel was not the right fit for her anymore. Soon, Kennard hears about an exchange opportunity where she would switch places with a teacher at a place called 'The Dragon School,' in Oxford, England. Jumping at the opportunity, Kennard finds herself whisked across the ocean to the land of tea breaks and castles, to teach at a very different school from the ones that she was used to.

This is an excellent read and one that I highly recommend! Make sure to pick up 'Dragons In My Classroom,' today!

Guest Post by Barbara Kennard

    Ten Things A New Teacher Should Know:

 1. Ease On Down The Road. If you’re anxious about teaching your first class; your students may be just as anxious about what kind of teacher you’re going to be! Tell them you’re nervous too but that you’re excited to be their teacher. Share something about yourself they might find funny, cool, or amazing and invite them to do the same with you.

 2. Ready Or Not? Some kids feel more than ready to come back to school in the fall; others are not at all excited about it. Take a bit of time to get to know where your students are with this. Play a version of hide and seek by asking them if they are ready or not and why.

 3. Your first honeymoon-The first month or two of the new school year can be like a honeymoon. All is going well: you’ve settled in, you like your work; the kids are following your directions; they’re happy. At this point your students may test you. How you respond to this ‘test’ tells them what they can get away with and what they can’t. Whatever they do, remind them of your expectations and how you feel about their actions in measured language and move on. You might even tell them about a time you something similar when you were a kid. Above all make sure they know you still care for them and that you won’t hold whatever they did against them.

 4. Slow and Steady. As much as you would like to dive into your curriculum take things slowly. Get to know your students, not just personally, but intellectually. It’s important to get a sense of their skills and knowledge before you jump into new material.

 5.Read The Room. Kids are very good at giving off signals when all is not well between you and them or amongst themselves. They desperately want you to figure out what’s not working, but it’s better if they articulate that or at least are given the chance to do so. Acknowledge something is amiss and ask what’s wrong; after some silence they’ll let you know. This is one of the many ways our students teach us.

 6.Less Can Be More. Don’t let your enthusiasm for your lesson plans to get in the way of giving kids quality over quantity. Students often need less. If you assign homework every night consider giving them and you a night off from time to time. Let them read a book silently for the last 10 minutes of class. You might consider doing the same thing. They’ll love it and so will you!

7. Dare To Repeat Things. Instead of introducing a new concept, find ways to repeat something students have been working on, even if they demonstrate mastery with it. This is a great time to let them teach one another something they’ve learned, and for you to learn from them.

 8. Make Wise Choices. Whether you are teaching in public or private school, you’ll have little control over many things; however, you can control what you do in your classroom. Recognize when and how to exercise that in deference to your needs and your students’

 9. Find Some Silence. Self-care can get lost in the shuffle of our teaching. Find a way to add some silence to your day. If you have time, find a place other than your classroom to spent 15-20 minutes alone in silence without your devices! Take a walk, hide in the library, sit in your car! Practicing silence makes us lighter and gives us strength for the long haul.

10. Do Something Old in A New Way. Is there something your students do really well? To recharge your batteries and theirs, consider a redo of something that’s been successful. Don’t keep a practice because they’re very good at it. Change it up for fun! Engage students’ ideas about how to do that.

 A closing thought: Remind yourself every day that no matter how impossible your job seems to be, you are changing lives. Persevere! This pandemic is getting behind us. You and your students will remember this unprecedented time as a time when many things were made new. 

About Barbara Kennard

Barbara Kennard taught English and performing arts to elementary, middle, and high school students from 1980 to 2015 and has received two teaching awards: The Christa McAuliffe Award for Teaching Excellence and The Barbara Kennard Sixth Grade English Prize, established in her name at The Fessenden School by a Fessenden family.

Barbara lives in Texas with her husband, pianist Brady Millican, and their cat, Piper.


Buy Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard


Follow Dragons In My Classroom by Barbara Kennard Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 15 Kickoff & Interview

Bookgirl Goodreads June 16 Review

Suzie. My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews June 17 Review & Guest Post

Gracie Goodreads June 20 Review

Amy Locks, Hooks and Books June 21 Review & Excerpt

Sal Bound 4 Escape June 23 Guest Review

Nora S. Storeybook Reviews June 28 Guest Review

Bee Book Pleasures July 7 Review & Interview

Laura Celticlady’s Reviews July 8 Guest Review

Lu Ann Rockin Book Reviews July 12 Review & Guest Post

Linda Goodreads July 13 Review

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus July 14 Review


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed 'Dragons In My Classroom'! Thanks for hosting Barbara!

  2. Thank-you for your gracious comments about my memoir,


Thank you for your comment. It is very important to me. Know that while I might not reply directly to your comment every time, I certainly read it and appreciate it.