My book, Imagined Worlds and Classroom Realities, is written and published.
There is a part of me that wants to leave that project behind and get involved something new. But the unpalatable reality is that I need to be involved in the publicity and marketing for the book. My colleague Anita Collins has designed a webpage for me, at steveshann.com, and I know I need to get out there and let people know about the book.
But who? And how?
A couple of nights ago, some neighbours came to dinner. One of them told us how a gardening project she was involved in at a local primary school was helping to turn around some disaffected kids. I asked her if she’d ever thought of becoming a qualified teacher; she’d be very good.
‘I’m way too cynical about schools,’ she said. ‘There’s so much pressure to teach the syllabus, to conform, and there are so many demands and rules and procedures that have nothing to do with good learning.’
Afterwards, I realised that she, and the many teachers who struggle to reconcile their ideals and visions with the everyday realities of the classroom, are the people I’m writing for. It’s the struggle I’ve been involved in all my teaching life. If it’s true that we write the book that we wanted to read, I’ve written a book of non-cynical stories, of stories that suggest that no matter how oppressive or pervasive ‘the system’ seems to be, teachers can keep their vision alive, their ideals in tact. The classrooms of these teachers are vibrant places.
On the long drive back from Melbourne last week, I listened to an interview with Seth Godwin where he talked about marketing and finding an audience. He suggested that the first step in any successful marketing is finding your tribe, the people who are interested in the same problems as you are, and who want to know your solutions.
My tribe is made up of those teachers, many of them new to the profession, who are scared that the system will snuff out their ideals and their visions, and want to hear a more encouraging story.