Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Work Has Begun

I have about a month now before Steven's done with his rewrite of our screenplay The French Inquisitor.

What to do?

                        *     *     *

So I've begun the book on teaching that I've wanted to do for quite some time.

A primer on coaching extracurricular activities (as opposed to merely coaching sports).  There isn't much literature on the subject.

Honestly?  I'm writing the book I wanted to read 20 years ago.  Back before I advised my first yearbook staff.  Back in September 1983 at the tender age of 20.

                         *     *     *

I should be sleeping.  In less than five hours, I have to get up for coffee with one of my mentors (11:00 AM date).  And I haven't had a wink of sleep yet.

I'm wide awake.  Perhaps it's because I just spent half an hour talking to a good friend from Ohio about what I'm writing.

Funny how the book -- which is nonfiction, as opposed to the screenplay I just wrote -- is shaping itself as it goes along.

I'm trying to find a style that is easy to read, yet can carry a significant level of insight.  A style that draws people into my subject.  Not a scholastic tome.  I want something hands-on.  Practical.

My co-writer for this book (not Steven this time, but instead, Shelby, a Ph.D) is currently editing material I've already written over the past four years.  These will deal with structuring the extracurricular activity, in this case, the Student Store (Part Two), and giving a coach practical handouts (Part Three).

I'm writing Section One, which will present the basic principles of coaching.

As of now, I'm planning twenty chapters in this first section.  The chapters will be short and loaded with personal stories.

Between each chapter will be short stories or sidebars that I'm tentatively calling Interpolary Moments.  Student testimonials, memories, and letters.

                         *     *     *

I have several goals in writing this book.

First, I'd like to give back to the field of education.  I love my job.  I'd like to infect others with my passion for teaching.

Second, I've had a lot of first-rate mentors.  Now, those mentors have retired, and I'm the one mentoring the new crop of young teachers.  What I teach them -- I'm putting into this book.

Third, I intend to become a head of school for some lucky independent school.  I think this book, when published, will prove that I can bring a lot to that kind of position.

                         *     *     *

Our audience?

Any teacher who runs an extracurricular activity.  That would be about 85% of all teachers.  This will be a primer that any principal can hand to his or her beginning teachers.  Or experienced ones.

If this book is of use to teachers, I will have succeeded.

                         *     *     *

Why am I considering administration?

First, because I love running an organization and seeing it work smoothly.  (Of course, I tend to love everything I do, because I see the glass as half-full, always.)

Second, because parents don't scare me.  Once I figured out the secret to a successful parent conference (another chapter in my book), I began to look forward to meeting parents, either in conference or in the parking lot.

I'm not joking.

Finally, I believe that heading up a school is very similar to heading up a theatre production (and I've done a lot of those).  Okay, that's a bit simplistic, but the principle is the same (no pun intended).  You cast the best people you can, and then you support the hell out of them as they work.

I'm not afraid of anything in the world of education.

After all, I've had twenty years to work with some really fine administrators, and also some not-so-successful administrators. 

Don't bother asking which is which.  My lips are sealed.

Being an administrator doesn't take rocket science skills:  administrators rely on the same basic communication skills that everyone else does.

Just a lotmore so.

                         *     *     *

How would becoming an administrator affect my plans to write and direct?

Good question.  Let me speculate.

                         *     *     *

My work as a writer shouldn't suffer.  The job I have right now demands that I oversee eight other adults and motivate over 50 kids.  That's the size of a small school.

I think I'll have just as much fun being an administrator and writer as I've had working as a teacher and writer.  Maybe more so.  I suspect I'll write just as effectively while running a school as I do right now teaching full time and running one of the largest extracurricular activities on campus.  Perhaps more so.

I have a friend who ran a major government post.  All while managing to write a full-length novel in her spare time.

It's all about what you want.

One's writing output has little to do with the job one is doing.  Writing regularly is about discipline, determination, and focus.  Not about what you're doing in your real life.

No matter how many people tell you they can't write and work another job, don't believe them.  If I've learned anything over the last four years in LA, it's that you can do whatever you want to do if you really want to.

Realistically speaking, I probably have over ten years left in my educational career, more or less.  Why not spend that time as head of a school, rather than as a teacher?  Both expend about the same level of energy.  If anything, a teacher's job demands more creativity.

So.  We'll see.  Meanwhile, I'm loving the work I'm doing on this new book.

1 comment:

cloudlessangel13 said...

I'm glad that you are getting to work on your book.  Don't forget to include that at first when structuring an organization you are going to make some people angry, but if you are doing a good job they will come to respect you and the job you are doing.  I think that is important because if you try to make everyone happy it could end up hurting the organization.  Working with you for four years taught me that.  I leave for school in about a week, but if you want a testimonial, to use your term, I would be happy to give one.   Hope all is going well.
Kelley