New Beginnings

Last night when I tried to think of something to blog about today, I had nothing. I felt defeated, and my heart was heavy. These past six weeks haven’t been easy. If you follow this blog, you might recall how I recently got in touch with my best friend from childhood (you can read about that divine intervention here). Basically, I got fan mail from a girl named Kerri this summer, which lead me to think about my old bestie named Kerri, and I immediately felt this overwhelming need to find her. After searching, I came across her mom’s obituary from the day before. She died at the age of 57 from MS. This lady was a second mom to me from grades 4-12, and I just pictured her up there tapping God’s shoulder, going “I’m glad I’m home, but can you please send someone to help out my daughter?”

A few weeks later, when she was going to be a homeless single mom with three kids, we took them in. We told her they could stay, all expenses paid, until November 20th, which is when the foreclosure on our home will go through. You might be surprised by this, but between being a teacher and my book sales for 18 Things and 18 Truths, I still don’t have a lot of extra cash (*snort*), but I can say without a doubt this was the right thing to do. That doesn’t mean sharing a 1,700 sq ft home with eight people, five of them kids between the ages of 14 and 9, hasn’t been challenging! Then this past Saturday, our fridge broke and we lost all the food in it. At this point, there’s no reason to replace it, so it was just another challenge.

The hunt to find the right home to rent stepped up. But when you live in a town that’s continually ranked in the top 10 cities for the most foreclosures, it’s a tough market to find a rental in because EVERYONE HAS LOST THEIR HOME :-(

At every turn, something fell through. When I found out this morning the next two houses we were interested in were already off the  market, I wasn’t surprised. I sighed, went to my dentist appointment to get my two crowns in (does that make me a princess now?), came home, and decided to take Kerri out to lunch and not worry about it (for once).  When we got back to the house, not only did she have a call saying she got hired at an AMAZING restaurant, there was an alert for the PERFECT house from a realtor.

Here’s the thing. If I hadn’t anticipated my dental work not being an all day affair, I would’ve only taken off a half day, but based on past experience, I took a full. Because I took that full, I was able to respond the moment it was listed, go see it, and get an application. As I left, another lady was coming in who also wanted to rent the property. Keep in mind this was THE SAME HOUR THE PROPERTY WAS LISTED! I was racing the other applicant to the office, lol. But Daddy didn’t nickname me Jeff Gordon for nothing ;-)

Plus, if the fridge didn’t break on Saturday, I wouldn’t have been looking so diligently because I figured we still had 6 weeks, and I would’ve missed this A*W*E*S*O*M*E deal!!

So yeah, WE GOT THE HOUSE! Thank you, Jesus! I couldn’t have asked for a better house for us, at the exact amount I prayed for, on the water (BONUS! Anyone have a paddle boat for sale?!), and down the canal, a view of my daughter’s high school. Being close to her school was the #1 thing I wanted since she’s involved with a million things and it’s only her Freshmen year (apparently, that’s what you need to do to get into an ivy league college . . . she’s done months hours of research).

When I got home from the realtor, I hugged Kerri and told her the move in date was October 15th because the office has to wait seven days. She looked at me and said, “October 15th would’ve been Mom’s 58th birthday.” Looks like Mom is up there bugging God about both of her children :-)

Speaking of numbers, it’s also October 8th. Dan and I got married on August 8, 1998 because we like the significance the number 8 holds in the Bible . . . it’s the number of new beginnings.

Life is full of trade-offs. We lost a good woman, but gained an angel. We’re losing a house, but God is blessing us with a better one. It’s a whole new chapter in our lives, and I’m lucky to go forward with such an awesome Father (and angel mama) looking out for us.

Whatever you’re going through, hold onto faith that our God is sufficient to supply all our needs. When we hold onto faith, we gain wealth beyond belief.

god promises

The #1 Reason I Published a YA Novel

Today I’m posting about my publishing journey as a contribution for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. I give Alex J. Cavanaugh and his Ninja Army permission to use my entry.

Title: The #1 Reason I Published a YA Novel

Topic: Publishing

One-line bio: Jamie Ayres writes young adult inspirational love stories with a paranormal twist by night and teaches young adults as a middle school Language Arts teacher by day.

Books Published: 18 Things, 18 Truths, and 18 Thoughts (coming January 2015)

Blog: http://www.JamieAyres.com

Entry:

Writing is work. It’s work I’ve greatly enjoyed, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing is hard work. After publishing my first novel, 18 Things, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book. I’ve had my own limits tested.

These days it feels like ninety percent of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee and consuming massive amounts of chocolate, etc . . . and about ten percent of actual writing. So when I received my first royalty statement, I’ll admit I felt like throwing up.

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become an author to make tons of money. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

But the royalties the first months were so small, I had to ask myself, why even continue doing this? If it was money I wanted, I could easily get a part-time job waiting tables and probably make more in a week than I would in a month of book selling.

I was at a crossroads in my life. Both paths, the Published Author and the Hobby Writer, had their good and bad points. But just like so many times before, I let faith carry me forward.

I took the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle and write the next two installments of my trilogy, 18 Truths and 18 Thoughts. Because of the talents God has given me, I looked at my book as a gift to the world to empower young people. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.

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*What challenges have you faced on your road to publication?

Don’t forget to check out other authors in the Insecure Writers Support Group. Alex’s A*W*E*S*O*M*E co-hosts today are Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue! We meet online the first Wednesday of every month :-)

Big Book Giveaway!!

Hi, all!

How was your weekend? Mine wasn’t too shabby . . . read to/gave away books to kids at the hospital with the Lee County Reading Council, packed up nonessentials in the house, tried a new restaurant with friends that had great burgers/BBQ, and attended my book club. Still only halfway through this month’s pick though, The Goldfinch. Anyone else pick up this Pulitzer Prize winner and have trouble getting through it?

Anyway, the real reason for my surprise blog today is to invite you to Teshelle Comb‘s Big Book Giveaway and Sole release event on Facebook. I’ll be there from 7-8pm, giving away ecopies of my books, and she has lots of other cool stuff going on from 11am-1am, so stop by if you get the chance!

 

 

Gwen Gardner: Demon Holes vs. the Knight Bus

Today you’re in for a treat because Gwen Gardner is here to guest post, woot woot! I first came across Gwen on the blogosphere because we both had our debut into the publishing world around the same time, her with Giving Up the Ghost, and me with 18 Things. I’m pretty sure it was our Ninja Captain that brought us together. If you don’t know Gwen yet (go ahead & slap yourself), allow me to introduce her.

Gwen Gardner author photo

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter.

Since ghosts feature prominently in her young adult Indigo Eady Paranormal “Cozy” Mystery series, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face – but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate – not necessarily in that order.

Knight Bus vs. Demon Hole

Thanks for hosting me today, Jamie!

I know Jamie is a Harry Potter fan and so am I! We’re both still waiting for our owls from Hogwarts with our invitations to attend. Well, Jamie would be one of the professors, for sure. Probably Muggle Studies, because she’s so good at human nature. I’m sure I’d be sorted into Griffindor where I’d excel at Defense Against the Dark Arts. At least, my characters might or might not agree with that.

I mean, I get them into dark and dangerous situations, but I get them out again, don’t I?

Indigo Eady is a ghost-whispering teen psychic and the protagonist in my Afterlife novella series. In Second Death (book I), I did sort of have her sucked down into a demon hole. She later compared it to that scene in Harry Potter’s The Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry inadvertently hails the Knight Bus.

The Knight Bus rescues witches or wizards in trouble and takes them where they need to go. There’s a scene where Ernie Prang is driving and throws a switch to maneuver between two muggle buses and so the Knight Bus shrinks to about six inches wide, squeezing all on board into a fun-mirror deformed version of themselves.

Well, according to Indigo, that’s what it feels like getting sucked down a demon hole. Sort of like being squeezed through the gullet of a snake. Slow, arduous and suffocating.

But that’s where the similarity between the Knight Bus and a Demon Hole ends. The Knight Bus is completely dangerous, true. It averages about one accident per week. None of the seats or beds is bolted down and so they slide all over the place. And being squeezed like that can’t be good for the mind or body. But at least they offer beds and hot chocolate!

Demon Holes–well, you can imagine what a nightmare they are. Indigo hasn’t quite forgiven me for the following scene, where she found herself all alone in the cemetery… at night…

Second Death cover

 

I reminded myself we were still in Gertrude’s Garden. We’d already seen how easy it was to go from one dimension to another without even trying. Yeah, maybe that was it. I should wait right there for Badger and Simon to get back. I folded my arms over my chest. Clamped my teeth together to keep my chin from wobbling. “Yeah, I’m just going to wait right here,” I spoke aloud, continuing to scan the area. “Sounds like a good plan, Indigo,” I answered myself. I glanced left and right. “I’ll just sit and wait,” I mumbled, backing up to the Earl’s headstone and sliding down into a sitting position. I waited and waited. And waited some more. I’ll admit that patience wasn’t my best virtue.

I changed position, using my left hand to shift to a more comfortable spot. That’s when I felt it. A general tugging sensation, followed by a swarm of orbs swirling up my arm. A squeezing numbness encompassed my body, like I was being swallowed whole by a boa constrictor, suffocating slowly, inch by inch, while contracting muscles pushed and sucked me further and further down into the bowels of…

SPLOT!

I lay on my back, no idea what had just happened, only that I couldn’t breathe. Panic was about to set in when my lungs finally expanded. I sucked in air like a fish gasping for water. Scrambling to my feet, I found myself in a narrow, dusky corridor, lit intermittently by orblight sconces along the walls. The floor and walls were uneven and dirt-packed, with roots protruding, some big, some small. The impression of being deep underground clung to me, like I’d been buried alive. I struggled to control my breathing, which threatened to turn into full-on hyperventilation.

You really landed in it this time, Indigo Eady. Under the freaking cemetery! I whimpered, which echoed and dwindled to silence down the corridor.

What do you think? Has Indigo forgiven me?

Thanks, Gwen! I loved your HP analogy, & this book sounds A*M*A*Z*I*N*G!!

Don’t forget to follow Gwen on social media! She’s a hoot!!

Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Amazon / B&N

You can buy her book now on Amazon or iTunes!!

Jamie Ayres In The News!!!

Hi, all!

Sorry I haven’t been around as much to comment lately . . . A LOT of stuff happening. A big part of that is three kids, ages 13, 12, and 9, moved in with us last Tuesday. Helping five kids with homework takes a lot of internet time away, lol.

5 kids

But I wanted to share something exciting! Florida Weekly interviewed me for their paper last week. You can see the online version here.

FL Weekly

I like that I’m above all those best sellers, hahaha!

What have you been up to? Hope to catch up soon :-)

The Best Suicide Prevention Plan?

“Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord lightens my darkness … You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your help has made me great. You have made me stride freely, and my feet do not slip.” 2 Samuel 22:29, 36-37

Unfortunately, sometimes the darkness we face is too much … too much pain, too  much trouble, too much opposition, too much sadness, too much debt, too much stress, too much … you fill in the blank. When it feels like the darkness is too big, it threatens to overwhelm us. What can we do?

Sometimes people feel like there is nothing to do. They take their own lives.

As a teen, there were two instances when I felt this same way.

The only thing that stopped me was God’s saving grace. Part of my experience served as inspiration for 18 Things and 18 Truths, both of which touch on the issue of suicide attempts. You can read part of my personal testimony on an old guest post I did on Gwen Gardner’s blog if you’re curious.

So what’s the point of all this?

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Visit the Official World Suicide Prevention Day Facebook Event Page and join people from all over the world who are supporting the cause, survivors of suicide and the many volunteers and practitioners worldwide who work to alleviate suffering through evidence-based research and practices.

It only takes a minute to help someone. And if you’re out there reading this, feeling like the darkness is too much, please let me offer you encouragement from my experience.

I would not still be here without asking for God’s help and wisdom. Just time spent thinking/praying about God’s will for my life and reading his word comforts and heals me. From this practice, I think you’ll find God is, and always has been, waiting to help. He wants what’s best for you, but we don’t see the big picture, we only see ourselves. He’s working on things we don’t understand. My pastor gave the analogy of remodeling  your house–it always takes longer and cost more than we think. And we’re not always committed to the process like God is . . . because he thinks eternally. He’s building an everlasting soul. He’s not going to duct tape over your problems for a temporary solution. But if we believe God is smarter than us and has way more experience and his love is FREE, then maybe we just found the best suicide prevention in the universe.

do something

http://www.vevo.com/watch/matthew-west/do-something/USUV71400004

 

 

 

 

Listening to Your Intuition

In the beginning of July, I received an email from a fan named Kerri. Immediately, I thought of my childhood best friend with the same name, even spelled the same way! I knew it wasn’t the same girl I once counted as a sister, but my heart began pounding out of my chest, and I didn’t ‘think’ . . . maybe I need to find her today? I KNEW! Granted, I’d tried many times to search for her online but to no avail. I hadn’t had any contact with her since I married in 1998. Her last name was different. I had no idea where she lived. Make a looong story short, I paid one of those stalker sites a dollar that EVENTUALLY led me to finding my long-lost friend that day. Her mom, who might as well have been my mom from fourth to eighth grade, died the day before, too young at the age of 57. Was the immediacy I felt at the need to find her THAT particular day a coincidence?

Kerri and I reunited at her mom's memorial

Kerri and I reunited at her mom’s memorial

So what does this have to with writing?

On July 23rd, I received an email with my first round of edits for the last novel in my 18 Things trilogy. She had this to say about my ending:

“Then the epilogue happens. I’ve never been so angry and confused and bipolar in my emotions as what this ending gave to me. NOT in a good way. I edited this AS I READ IT for the first time. That was my immediate, instinctual reaction. If this were a finished, completed MS that I’d picked up and were reading to review for enjoyment, the rating/review would not be positive.”

krystal and me

My editor and me at the UtopYA2014 conference <3

*deep breaths*

Between a family drama and health problems, I had to let this one simmer a couple of weeks because I wasn’t sure how to respond. But when I finally returned to her comments, I realized she was right. Sometimes the gruffest critiques can be the best. They make you evaluate what YOU really want as an author and go from there (a wise CP reminded me of that). And I realized the ending I, THE AUTHOR, wanted all along, wasn’t the right one . . . neither was the one my editor hoped for. Like my first two books, it may be an ending that hardly anyone expects. I know I didn’t!

But like my 14yo daughter said, “Well, Mom, you pulled total surprise endings in your first two books . . . don’t you think it’s only fitting your characters do the same thing to you for the final book?”

Still, I was flipping out . . . BUT THIS WASN’T WHAT I PLANNED?! WHAT DO I DO?!?! I should note that I never ‘planned’ to write an epilogue either. My characters had already surprised me with an extra I didn’t expect. But this time around, I was leaning toward cutting the epilogue completely, and the final chapter was one I hadn’t thought of until mulling things over after my editor’s email.

I was at a crossroads. And like so many other times in life, I followed my intuition. Never would I have ‘planned’ my ending this way, but I know . . . not think, not hope, not pray . . . I KNOW it’s the right one. Funny thing was, when I went back and examined some things in 18 Truths, it’s like my subconscious knew this ending was coming all along. Just took me a while to catch on!

Do you find yourself immediately listening to that little voice nudging inside of you, or does it take a few wrong tries before you realize your intuition was somehow right all along?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month, so feel free to join us if you need support or would like to give some encouragement! We’ve been going for three years strong now!

IWSGHEADER

Amazon Marketing 101

When I was trying to think of what to blog tonight, I realized I never posted about the marketing tips I learned from Quinn Loftis, Ella James, and Eva Pohler at the UtopYA2014 conference in June. My notes are somewhat scattered (just like their owner!), but hopefully this info will help someone!

How to hit the Top Rated Lists without much effort and minimal sales:

Do a soft launch of 48 hrs- have a team of people buy it to start ranking & post reviews but the big Facebook & Twitter party is 2 days later-also helpful to make sure the manuscript looks right if you’re self publishing. Hint: Every time you have to reload your book on Amazon, you loose rankings. Refreshing also hurts ranking- use rank obsession.com- updated more frequently than other sites- & will send you new reviews. Tip: Don’t release on weekends & Tuesdays because Tues is when big houses publish & can’t compete with that & people are busy on the weekends.

 How to use tags and categories properly:

Amazon keywords: put them in your blurb- i.e. YA Romance, YA Trilogy. Google key words to find most searched keywords. If it’s already in your author bio, pick something else because it’s already metadated. Some things like paranormal romance will have way too many books to get noticed so be more specific. “Google ad words.” Optimize website with key words, too.

The importance of pricing:

Indie prices typically do best between 99 cents & $3.99- trainings readers to take a chance on you. Indies, you can make book free on Kindle if you make it free somewhere else like B&N & then they’ll price match. Once the last book in your trilogy or series is published, it’s a good idea to make your first book free through a bookbub ad. Keep your finger on the pulse by looking at the top 100 books in your categories.

Free advertising:

The best kind of free marketing is not advertising at all but just being present on social media sites with authentic interactions.

Have Calls to Action- 90% chance of people responding. Ex: Laura Howard’s Q of the Day on Facebook.

On Facebook- don’t just post blog automatically to your page- insert image and then write 1-3 lines of text with link at the end, because FB drives more traffic to you if you post like that. Also 30 second videos rank higher than anything else. Post natively to Twitter as well- will see a difference with your blog. Don’t pay to booster posts because then FB knows they can get you to pay instead of having them booster it for you.

Google Hangout for book club discussions and school visits around the country, etc: in it’s simplest form it’s a live YouTube. Under your Google Plus account, look at the button for it. Use Twitter hashtag for questions during the hangout – it can also be embedded to watch later. Under your Google pic in the box put your Twitter name & hashtag you’re using. It’s kind of like doing the author FB party but one step up. Do a theme for the hangout: like wearing your pj’s, Star Wars, or anything fandom your fans would get excited about. You should be a fan of what your readers are fans of & interact with those hashtags on Twitter. For example, you can tweet during the favorite TV shows but remember time differences and don’t give away spoilers.

Facebook, Tumblr, & Twitter are the big social media forums right now. If you’re new to Tumblr (like me, follow me here), look at YA authors Cassandra Clare & John Green- rock stars at Tumblr!! All YA authors should be on it. Be creative and have fun! Example idea: Costume ideas for your book characters. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest are also great sites for interacting. Just remember that social media is to congratulate, celebrate, & “Wow look at this!” Not for “Now hear this!” Stay away from religion and politics when you’re in author mode.

Love it or hate it, Amazon is the world’s largest bookstore. What do you do to market your book?

By the way, thank you for all the tweets last week while 18 Things had it’s 2-day 99 cent sale! When my publisher ran a 99 cent sale six months ago, it got down to #114 overall on all of Amazon and was #1 in 3 categories! Not quite as good this time around, but #169 overall & #1 in 2 categories isn’t too shabby (and still holding there since Thursday)! And it’s given a boost in sales to 18 Truths as well! Muchos gracias, for my early birthday present, amigos <3

1 best seller in YA Paranormal

Too Much Excitement for One Week!

School starting, my first mother/daughter column, a national magazine book review, a 99 cent sale for 18 Things , and my birthday . . . everything is coming up roses this week :-) Let me tell you that there were many times I was severely depressed during my growing up years. My 14yo daughter started high school this week (at my old stomping ground where I met hubs when I was 14!), and as he reminisced about those years with her, I realized I hardly remembered any of my own experiences. I think my subconscious just decided to shelter me by forgetting. But I do remember HOW I felt in my darkest hours, like each day would bring more troubles than I could deal with. So this week I’m incredible happy and thankful because as I’m turning thirty-five (which I view as the midway point in life . . . the Bible only promises us seventy years, eighty with a little trouble, so obey your parents!), it dawned on me that my life is way more than I ever dreamed possible. I have two jobs I LOVE (teaching middle school writing & being an author), a husband who has stayed married to me for 16 years and counting even though I’m sure I got the better end of the deal, and two wonderful daughters. Speaking of which . . .

My teenage daughter has lowered her standards and agreed to do a weekly column with me on my publisher’s website. We’ll review movies, books, music, and fashion. You get both of our perspectives, the Jedi and the Padawan. Check out our first post here, a review for the Ninja Turtles movie.

turtles

Also, 18 Things was reviewed in the Sept/Oct issue of Stone Soup magazine, written by my daughter! If you have a child 13yo or younger who loves to read, they may want to subscribe and/or submit to this magazine. As a book reviewer, they pay the child $40 and send them two free copies of the magazine.

magazine

And in other 18 Things news, the Kindle ecopy will go on sale for only 99 cents tomorrow and Friday (regular price $4.99). I do hope you’ll download it if you haven’t done so already. And if you have, would you mind posting a tweet or Facebook status to help me spread the word? Last time it went on sale in February, it almost broke into the top 100 on all of Amazon (#114–sooo close!!!!). It’s on my bucket list to make it to the top 100, and it’d be about as sweet as it can get if I’m able to cross this one off during my birthday week!

Will I have the Sweetest Birthday Ever?!

Will you help me have the Sweetest Birthday Ever?!

Here’s a sample tweet or FB post:

For a  novel packed with love & adventure grab 18 Things  while it’s only   Aug 21-22

What about you? Has joy greeted you this week? If not, I pray faith would make you whole again and that you could grab hold of each happy moment this life gives. <3

 

 

Performance Task Writing . . . What It Means For Kids

This past week as summer vacation ended, I had to switch my mind from writing mode to teaching mode. Although I do teach writing to middle school students, it’s a lot different than the type of writing I do for my books, 18 Things and 18 Truths. I realized that many of you probably have children and may not know the new College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing that our nation adopted, so I thought I’d list them here. Of course, the devil is in the details and what these standards mean exactly differs for each grade level, but it’s still good to familiarize yourself.

Text Types and Purposes:

1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or typing a new approach.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single setting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

What does all of this mean???

It means the days of having cold writing prompts are over. No more writing a story about a strange green light you saw when you took out the trash or why Florida is a nice place to visit. Instead, students will read a complex text such as a poem, an excerpt from a memoir or a nonfiction article, and they’ll have to respond to that piece with a specific task.

For example, students read “O Captain! My Captain!” and analyze how Walt Whitman used allusion, analogies, and word choice to write an elegy for Abraham Lincoln.

This way, we’re not expecting students to bring a whole lot of background knowledge to the table with a ‘cold’ essay prompt, because background can vary greatly from kid to kid. It also means we’re connecting reading and writing in a more meaningful way since they are already so intricately connected. The new standards are definitely steering students more towards college writing, where you write research papers for almost every class as if your life depended on it . . . and it’s always connected to your reading for the course.

The sad part for me is it takes away a lot of the creativity in writing. Granted most of these students aren’t going to grow up and become published fiction authors. I get that. And the new series my district adopted is fabulous, sooo many great resources! But it also feels like teaching for dummies. There are anchor texts that I must teach from. In previous years, we didn’t have a textbook for Language Arts. We had academic plans that told us what skills to cover each week, but the way we taught those skills were up to us! I brought in novels from the best modern day authors and let classes vote on which one they wanted to use that quarter and our writing took off from there. I read a different novel for each class period all quarter long (so I read a total of seven novels at once between my 150 students). With the  new curriculum, I doubt I’ll even get to read a novel with my classes because this new stuff in their textbook is so complex. If I do read a novel, I have to pick from a list of ones written by really old dead white dudes that probably won’t interest my students.

I thought I’d have a break from this with a Creative Writing elective, which would be great because those aspiring authors could take my class and we could delve into more creative writing in there. But like a lot of electives, it got cut from the schedule in favor of me teaching more core classes.

But I’m still super excited about the new school year because I know I can make this work. Why? Because I bring the awesome. You can laugh, but I know I’m a great teacher! The fact is, the problems we have in education will NEVER be solved by paying millions of dollars to adopt the latest series aligned to the newest standards. Those teachers who failed to succeed at teaching the old series will probably fail at this one. Programs don’t determine a student’s success, teachers do. Programs aren’t the be-all and end-all of education. Teachers are the problem, and teachers are the solution. I guarantee you that even with this wonderful new series, the same teachers who sucked before will still suck.

What we need in education are more teachers like these . . .

 

I’d like to add that I work at the top performing middle school in our county, and what makes our school great are the teachers! I feel so lucky to collaborate with them on a daily basis :-)

What about you? Do you think a new program could ‘fix’ the worst teacher you’ve even known? If you have children, are you happy with the writing curriculum at their school?