My Second First Year

Leaving Academia for a High School Classroom

Joseph R. Jones, Gordon State College

Published 2019

Dr. Jones returned to the high school classroom after 15 years in higher education, most recently as an Associate Dean. This text chronicles his journey into his new teaching career. The premise of the text is framed on the attributes of a relational pedagogy. As such, the book discusses the relationships that Dr. Jones developed throughout the academic year. In this capacity, relational pedagogy allows the reader a unique lens through which to view the schooling process in this metropolitan southern town.

In the book, Jones examines topics such as standardized testing, racism, sexuality, cheating, among other topics, through a critical theory paradigm. In doing so, Jones is able to interweave theoretical concepts within the daily actions of the schooling process. As such, the text is a unique reconceptualization of schools and the purpose of schools.

Praise for My Second First Year:

"In My Second First Year, Dr. Jones discusses his experiences leaving academia and returning to a high school English classroom, a daunting task that few academics would attempt. As a biologist and without affiliation with a teacher preparation program, I can attest to the importance of Jones’ work. This text illuminates the educational process for millions of children, which allows those of us not in the daily trenches of teaching K-12 students to experience the reality of our educational process. His discussions of school shootings, testing, and marginalization of students can become a catalyst that causes everyone in society to begin reexamining how we educate our children. Jones’ book could become the commencement point for educational reform."
Linda Hensel, PhD
Mercer University

"In My Second First Year, Dr. Jones discusses his journey leaving higher education to return to a high school classroom. His powerful depictions of the realities of standardized testing, school shootings, racism, sexuality, and other topics cause the reader to reflect on all aspects of how children are educated. His use of relational pedagogy as his framework reminds us of the importance of positive relationships in schools and society. This text is a must read for anyone who advocates for our children."
Nila Burt, EdS
Assistant Principal
Northside High School

"Many of the stories in My Second First Year will be familiar to many teachers working in American PK-12 public schools as they will be similar to their own experiences. Dr. Jones takes us on a journey that many of us in academia would be apprehensive to take. By providing example after example, he demonstrates the significance of relational pedagogy and how it can increase the likelihood of student success. In this climate of student-to-college discourse, Jones provides evidence on how positive relations between teacher and students benefit all students regardless of post-secondary plans. This is significant for at the end of the day, the goal of schooling is about more than whether or not our students find employment. It is more important that students grow into caring, lifelong learners who can find happiness regardless of occupational goals. Jones reminds us all why we became teachers in the first place and—for many—why many teachers choose to stay in the profession."
Vincent Youngbauer, PhD
Mercer University