Thoughts, links & ideas from the 2008 National Teacher of the Year

Each time I've taken off in a plane since May (which is a lot), I've been writing in my journal, then adding these journal entries on this blog.

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(Note: the blue posted dates are actually the dates I wrote the journal entries, not when I posted them online.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book 'Em, Dannie

Denver, CO

When I first got selected as National Teacher, my friend and colleague, Dannie, was laughing pretty hard. “They’re going to make a movie out of you!” she chided. She was referring to The Ron Clark Story, which I had never heard of. (Incidentally, I hadn’t heard of Teacher of the Year, either.) Of course, he was the Disney Teacher of the Year, so that’s a little different story.

Not long after this, Jen told me that the previous National Teacher from Oregon (John Ensworth, 1973) now has an elementary school named after him. “There are going to middle school kids running around in ‘Geisen Middle School’ gym shorts!” I really hope not.

Others informed me (with much more seriousness) that I would never go back to teaching. “They never do.” Actually, this isn’t very accurate, and I, too, plan to pick up where I left off in my same classroom. There are too many things I still want to do. Plus, middle school kids are rad.

But there’s one common prediction that I haven’t decided on yet: writing a book.

I go back and forth. There’s a part of me that thinks: “the last thing we need is another book about education.” This is the same part of me that thinks: “why would anyone pay me to speak at an educational conference?”

But a huge number of people have asked me about it, a number of people have nudged me in that direction, and there has been enough interest in what I have to share that now I’m thinking a bit more about it.

It would be tremendously time consuming, but I think I would enjoy the process. I like to create stuff, and this would be a new challenge. I have no idea if I would make money, or if it’s a bit like coaching: thousands of hours for hundreds of dollars. Plus, I've never aspired to become a motivational speaker, especially one who is peddling a book. What have I become?!

On the other hand, I have a lot of good material, both written and visual, that already could form the backbone of the book. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions…

Comments, anyone?


  1. I believe sharing is one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give other teachers. I say go for it :)

  2. Chiming in somewhat late, but...

    I think motivation and morale is one of the most important facets of education. If you have a secret to motivating kids and raising teacher morale, even if your secret is "I really work hard and love my job," get that message out there. We have too, too many apathetic teachers who blame the kids when the problem is just a lack of interest.

    I just saw Ron Clark speak in our district, and I was far less impressed by the techniques (raps, dances, etc.) than I was with the energy, focus, and drive. You were teacher of the year! That must mean you're doing something right! Share it with us, even if it's, "I'm not sure how I got here, but here's what I do."

  3. Here's what I know, nephew-in-law Mike, if you don't write this book, you will always wonder "what if". You have been given talents and gifts and opportunities that surpass what most of us dream about. I encourage you to open this door and see what else God has in store for you.


  4. You MUST write a book on teaching. I've written two. I'd be happy to help you with editing/revision if you thought you needed any help. It would be an honor!

    You make us laugh; we don't have too many books written in your voice...

    merrill watrous

  5. Such a nice post specially for writers and publishers of different books! I wrote 2 books related in teen fictions and I received lots of good comments from the readers.

    optometrist columbia sc


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