I’d been a substitute teacher for a number of years before I signed on as an special education technician at Whittier Middle School. I truly enjoy working with all age groups, and had worried a little about settling down with only the 7th and 8th grades. But I had nothing to fear. Middle-schoolers are silly, fun, caring, dramatic, sarcastic and smart. I learn something new every day!
I was blessed to be paired in a classroom with Shannon Shanning. I’ve learned so much from her! Every day, I witness her uncanny ability to get to the heart of what each student needs in order to be a successful learner. Then she goes above and beyond to make sure they get that type of learning. Shannon also believes in connecting her students to the community. Is it any wonder she was named Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year? Click here to follow her journey.
One of my favorite lessons to teach is writing strategies (I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that, would you?) Quite often I use one of my own stories as an example on how to gather ideas, do research or create a character. Last year especially, I highlighted the similarities between their classroom writing and the process I used to write Cooper. The students asked very good questions, like: How many times did you have to rewrite it? How long did it take you to write 35,000 words anyway? How the heck did you ever fiiiiind 35,000 words to write? How do you choose the storyline? The characters? Do you really have to do research? Whoa, you make more mistakes than we do, Mrs. Wight! (after seeing a manuscript full of critique notes from a writing friend)
Every now and again they’d ask if I’d heard anything from the publishers I submitted to. “Why does it take so long?” they’d ask over and over again. I warned them they could be graduated from high school before I sold a novel, but they’d just wrinkled their noses and laugh at me.
In the fall of 2012, I couldn’t wait to announce that Cooper and Packrat had sold to Islandport Press over the summer. These kids are some of my biggest cheerleaders. And there’s even a few of last years eighth graders who came back from the high school to congratulate me. Soooo many hugs!
Already the new wave of questions flow: How come it won’t come out till August? Will it be an e-book? Will it have pictures? Can we read it first? Pleeeeeease??
*rubbing hands together* So for them to now go through this final process with me . . . it’s going to be so awesome! It’ll be more fun than doing it from my quiet, winter, campground office, that’s for sure.
You’ll find curriculum guides for The Three Grumpies and Cooper and Packrat in the drop down menu for this page. Shannon Shannning and I have tested most of them on our students. Please drop me a line if you use any of them. I’d love to hear all about it!