As a child, I dreamed of teaching elementary students and one day writing children’s books! During my 36 years of teaching fourth grade, I often wrote poems, raps, and songs to help enhance my lessons (these writings always included rhyme and humor, both of which I love). The children always enjoyed hearing my creations, and I loved having an audience to sing to, as no one else would listen to me sing! I really can’t blame my family and friends, as singing is not my forte. But I soon discovered that teaching was my forte!
I believed in tapping into each child’s creativity and talents, integrating “Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy” of thinking levels and “Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences” into my daily curriculum! I also was a strong proponent of making school relevant, interesting, and fun, giving my students a variety of opportunities, including writing and sharing/performing their authored poems, raps, songs, stories, and skits, in addition to participating in creative drama and plays (my students performed in a play I wrote, entitled “The Case of the Missing Olympic Medals”, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, which I integrated in my Social Studies Olympics Unit).
To make learning more interesting and relevant for my students, I often tied literature into the topics I taught, reading great stories and poems as an introduction or summary to my lessons in Math, Science, and Social Studies. Of course, it was even more special for the kids and myself when I’d integrate their writing creations, or my poems, songs, and raps!
Upon retiring from teaching, in June of 2011, I thought I would fulfill my second lifelong dream – writing and publishing children’s books! I knew I had a lot of practice and experience, writing for all of my classes during my 36 years of teaching, so I thought I’d give it a try. The theme I used with my last class was “Superheroes” (I had a theme for my students each year, which I’d tie into my lessons, discussions, assignments, etc…). During discussions of this theme, my class and I decided that the definition of a real superhero is a person of good character. I decided by the end of that last year, that I would write stories about what a real superhero is and integrate good character. This is how “Jonathan Ray and His Superhero Pack” came to be, with stories about “Respect”, “Bully-Free”, and “Honesty”. I was all set to start this series after I retired, but decided to write a Math poetry book, “Mathapalooza”, while I still had all of the important elementary level Math topics and vocabulary fresh in my mind. I liked the way it turned out, so I continued with two more poetry books – “Sciencepalooza” and “Historypalooza.”
It was difficult for me to retire, as I loved being a teacher, but I feel that I am still teaching thru my writing. Though I am now a children’s author, I think of myself more as a teacher, teaching good character in my superhero series and important topics and vocabulary in my poetry series! I have also incorporated three of my loves into my writing – rhyme, humor, and animals (the superhero pets). I also still feel like a teacher when I go to schools and read my stories and poems to the children, which was always one of my favorite parts of teaching! I have written and self-published six children’s books, three in each of my series, and hope to write/publish a few more in my superhero series (possibly “Good Sportsmanship”, “Responsibility”, and “Good Citizenship”)! Any other good character/story ideas that you might have are welcome!
Well, I taught for 36 years and then gave this writing/publishing thing a stab, fulfilling my two childhood dreams! By fulfilling these dreams, I have been able to help children in two important ways, and for this I am grateful!