This weekend I had the powerful and humbling experience of reading the proof of my teaching memoir. Seven years in the making, twice as long since I retired… reading it all in just two days offered a fresh and more complete perspective on my career. The stories share the lessons I learned as a teacher, for all good teachers must be learners first. Rediscovering my own learning experiences reminded me of my evolution from naïve idealist to more competent instructional leader. I confess I’m proud of this book, and the reviews might just give me a swelled head. Here’s one:
“Teaching is hard. Anyone who has spent any time in the classroom knows what it is like. Those first years are particularly challenging, but they can lead to an emancipatory journey. Ellen Ljung captures this experience in a way that will resonate with anyone that has ever taught, but also illuminates a path for those that are just starting their own career. From the early days of navigating the bureaucracy of schools and the dated expectations of its leaders to a more established position of understanding, Ljung details her own development, striving to serve her students, and herself, better. There is much to learn here for all. Tales Told Out of School raises important questions for teachers, administrators and those who care for them about the nature of teaching, the challenges of work in schools, particularly as a woman, and what it takes to truly master an incredibly demanding profession. Ljung’s wit, humility and humor bring to life the experience of the classroom at an all too important moment in our history.” ~ Bob Regan, Director of Education at Gates Ventures
Sadly, the current supply chain issues mean the book probably won’t be published and distributed until early in the new year. And I still have work to do: fixing the final editing errors that my weekend read found despite multiple proof sessions earlier, agreeing on a cover design, and setting up a book launch. All these efforts make the eventual advent of the book feel more real.
It has been over thirty years since I published my second textbook, and I wrote both of those texts by dedicating a year of Sundays, a much faster process than this one. I will never forget the elation I felt holding a book I had written for the first time! This time feels different, though. This time is so much more personal. This time I’ve shared my own stories and vulnerabilities. This time also offers overdue closure, a letting go.
Decades ago teachers at my school explored “writing to learn,” a movement that asserted that we could best understand our thoughts and ideas by writing about them, that the writing itself would bring clarity. This teaching memoir has taught me so much about myself, about my strengths and weaknesses, about my passions and beliefs. I can’t wait to share it!