Los Alamos teacher Nicole McGrane has published a book on education from a teacher’s perspective. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Nicole McGrane, a fifth grade teacher at Barranca Elementary School, has written a book called “Teaching While Handcuffed: One Teacher’s Perspective – A Memoir”. She has taught for 20 years, 10 of them in Los Alamos Public Schools. She hopes the book will cause the reader to stop and reflect on their own experiences with education and the roles they have played within the system.
“I wanted to make a difference as an educator. I was starting to wonder if I was having the impact that I had wanted when I first went into education. I was worried about the way things were headed and I started writing,” McGrane told the Los Alamos Reporter.
She said she talked to fellow educators in New Mexico and other states and felt they were on a weird trajectory.
“Things were getting super complicated and teachers were getting increasingly frustrated and I was getting frustrated. f I feel like I can’t be the teacher that I want to be, then I start to question what’s going on. Why do I feel this way and what can we do about it?” McGrane said. “If things aren’t working I want to do something to change them and I was frustrated because I was feeling that change wasn’t gotten easily.”
She said when she really thought about the problem she thought it was super complicated, that there were so many things going on and her power was kind of limited, so she started writing as a way for her to get things out.
“Then I thought well, maybe if I share my story, people will start talking more and thinking about the roles they play in education that are not just on the teachers shoulders but on everyone’s shoulders – the parents the students, the system, the community, voters. Everyone has a role to play in making our education strong. I thought I could share my story and get people to think about what roles they play and how doing simple things in their role that they already have could actually have a ripple effect and really make a difference in our system,” McGrane.
And the result was “Teaching While Handcuffed” which she hopes will start a discussion and with some luck a movement where kids and their education are put first and where the education of youth and all who help teach them are held in high regard.
The foreword to the book is written by her mother, Linda Jacobson, a retired teacher and instructional coach of 43 years. Jacobson asks readers to set their ego aside as they read the book and self-reflect on the handcuffs they may be responsible for and how they can work towards unlocking the chains.
McGrane has a B.S. in Health Science/Education with a minor in Psychology from the University of Arizona, a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology from Hamline University, and an Elementary Education degree from Northern New Mexico College. Her master’s research/thesis was built around student motivation in education. She has worked with youth 3 – 18 years of age in a variety of settings and from a variety of backgrounds spanning for over 20 years. Nicole was nominated for Los Alamos Teacher of the Year and given a Community Assets Award in 2017. She is trained in both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid and Crisis Prevention.
“Teaching While Handcuffed” is available on Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-While-Handcuffed-Teachers-Perspective/dp/1793017077