I’m not going to write you a resolution, cause you asked for it… which is why I am posting this on December 31st, instead of tomorrow. Here’s my new year’s news: I’m going to write a book.
Oops, I said it (again). Last time, in this space, was the auspicious pause before the school year when teacher resolutions are generally made (“Lull Before the Storm,” August 21, 2007). On the verge then of starting my third and I did not know then final year at High Tech High, I talked about various topics including the perennial quest to be a better dude, also the possibility of writing a teacher book for an excellent Alexandria-based educational publisher.
That previous gesture at book-writing didn’t pan out, although I still think teachers would dig a guide to working smarter using student-centered methods inspired by a premise that I first heard in the Summer Institute a decade or so ago from Tidewater Writing Project director Deny Wolfe: “School should not be a place where kids go to watch teachers work hard.” I could give you a few good excuses why that proposal didn’t get writ, but instead, let me give three reasons why this one will.
An agent. I was contacted by Andrea from Long Island, who introduced herself as “a literary agent who is also a mother, a PTA President and education advocate. I read education blogs and magazines regularly and love your blog…” She had me at PTA President, but went on to outline experience with places like Random House that showed she knew her stuff. She even went back and read most of Certifiable? after our first phone conversation, proving herself to be a true gourmand of edublogs.
An idea. The notion of writing a book has always appealed to me, but the reality of it, as Lull’s litter proves, has often been daunting. Multi-tasking mom Andrea understood this, and was receptive to my desire to build on my previous published work rather than create something brand new. And so the twice told tale (this blog, a Washington Post piece last year) of the canoe with legs and my quest for Natty Boards will get told yet again. Same story, different form. The blog will morph into a canoe-paddled narrative, for a broader readership than teachers only.
This blog. Not only will I harvest the raw material from Certifiable?, I can work it out here on Eduholic. “Don’t overexpose,” Andrea cautions through the unlatched barn door. Good advice which I will observe by writing the thing offline. But what I can do, in the spirit of our ongoing conversation about the teaching of writing, is to expose the guts as I go. Just weeks ago, I talked to local teacher researchers about telling their tales in print (“We Pod,” November 3, 2008), an invitation garnered after a course I gave in summer ’07 called “Voices from the Classroom.” What I learned from both is that teachers want to be heard.
Granted, I know as much about writing a book right now as I knew about building a canoe before I did it with my students (and a lot of help from my friends) a couple years ago. So, here goes nothing. You are cordially invited to learn from my mistakes, offer advice along the way, and ask insightful or dumb questions. With your help, the book will float. I promise.