I’ve been working on a serious blog entry for a week now, but the topic inflames me so strongly that it’s been hard to pull together. I will finish it and get it posted soon; today, though, I’m just going to write about last Sunday’s book launch.
Being a teacher always called to me; it was the second most important part of my life after family, and sometimes [when grades were due, when research papers piled up on my desk…], it even displaced family as a priority! Long before I finished teaching, I knew I wanted to capture the stories from my years in the classroom. I wanted them to be more permanent than mere dinner party storytelling.
It took me seven years and the support of a good writing group to really pull my stories together. It took my writing group to help me define my audience, and a specific member of my group to help me create the structure I ended up using. Often life got in the way, but I remained determined.
When my first real copy arrived, I wept. I had already published two textbooks about writing with computers when they were new to schools along with dozens of articles. None of those compared to seeing this book in print. It’s so personal to me.
And on Sunday I had the privilege of seeing and hearing from former students, a blessing in its own right. Some I’ve been in touch with, so I was less surprised when they came or ordered the book from me. Others offered wondrous surprises. A young woman I hadn’t seen since her mid 90s graduation brought in her creative writing portfolio with my notes and grade of A+. I had encouraged her to submit one of the poems for the graduation program, and it was chosen. She told me on Sunday that that had been a turning point for her, that my encouragement and having her poem chosen had mattered so much. I had no idea… Other former students surprised me with flattering Facebook comments. That’s the thing about teaching — you often don’t know.
I’m surprised at how many years have passed since I left the classroom for retirement, but my teaching experiences remain a fundamental part of my identity. I am so grateful for them and for the relationships that teaching allowed. I’ve finally told my “tales out of school,” and I know how lucky I’ve been.