The Book Wrangler

Michael RawlsWelcome to my new blog! You may know me as Monster Wrangler Mike on Instagram, or TeachersPayTeachers. When I first began teaching, and people would ask me what it was like to be a teacher, the best explanation I could offer was that it was a bit like wrangling little monsters all day long; similar to herding cats.  Usually, a monster is defined as Mon∙ster: 1. an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening. 2. a person, typically a child, who is rude or badly behaved. This was not my intention in calling students “monsters.” The monsters I was conjuring up were more in line with those from the imagination of someone like Jim Henson – all different, each unique, full of life and energy, loveable with a tendency toward saying silly or unexpected things – you know, like our students. Thus, the name Monster Wrangler Mike was born of my first impressions of teaching 18 years ago.

My journey into education was not grown from some seed planted long ago in a classroom far, far away; it was not inspired by a remarkable educator from my past whose love for teaching was so infectious that I caught the bug; this teaching thing wasn’t some childhood dream that was finally realized. Instead, wandering aimlessly toward the end of my sophomore year, with little in mind of what I wanted to do with my life, I was encouraged by a friend to join her on her journey into the wild world of middle grades education, and on a whim, it seemed a life-changing decision was made. I joined a cohort of 17 – all women – for my junior and senior year at Georgia College and State University, and life was never the same again.

Over the past 18 years, I have taught students – or wrangled monsters – in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 in six different public schools in Georgia. This year, I’m making the leap to the largest classroom in the school – the media center. As the school library media specialist, I’ll get to put my passion for children’s literature at the core of what I do working with students and teachers, and I wanted a blog to capture some of my ideas; a place where I could share them with a broader audience – with all of you. I hope you’ll come back from time to time and see what books I’ve wrangled up for you to inspire children, inspire your lessons, and inspire you.

The Book Wrangler

3 thoughts on “The Book Wrangler

  1. What a great “origin” story you have there Mike! I look forward to following along on your journey here on your blog and I can’t wait to see all the book recs you will be coming up with!


  2. Thank you so much for this blog! As a 6th grade teacher, I’m looking for more ways to incorporate picture books into my teachings. I love the way you give a short summary but then also describe different ways to use the book in the classroom! Extremely helpful, just what I needed!


  3. Mike, even though I wrangle big monsters in a high school English classroom, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog since I discovered it via some other teachers I follow on Instagram. Your visual displays in the library are amazing, and many of them transcend age boundaries; I’ll definitely be incorporating a few of them into my own classroom! I’m also drinking in your book recommendations and have already reserved some at my local library to read with my five-year-old son. Thank you for living life out loud and sharing so much as you do to help others of all age groups along the way!


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