thank you and dedication
Thank you to all the people who have followed my blog for awhile and who leave comments pretty regularly. These people include Doyle, Angela, Kelly, Uninspired Tom, Brazen, Bibo, Betty, Sean, Steve and Tom and the Nerdfighteria Misfits, Matt, Alan, Jerrid, Miss Teacha, Joel, Russ – I know that I'm leaving people out here, but I want to thank all of you who have challenged my thinking.
I also want to thank the friends mentioned in this book who have helped me through my teaching career. Thank you, Christy, for all loving me so well and helping me to become more humble and authentic. Thank you Javi and Dan and Quinn – I am forever shaped by our numerous coffees together. Thank you Brad for mentoring and shaping my thoughts about teaching.
This book is dedicated to Joel, Micah and Brenna. Being a father has been one of the best experiences of my life. Ultimately that's what this book is truly about, taking off the mask, being transparent, learning to listen. The three of you have taught me more about that than anything I learned in professional development.
One of my favorite elements of a Russian novel has nothing to do with the pastoral connection to the land, the complexity of characters, the insane amount of bloodshed or the intricate plot details. Instead, I love the list of characters at the beginning. Therefore, I'm including a list of characters at the beginning of the book. If I could make the list perforated, you could simply tear it out and it would be a makeshift bookmark so that you're not stuck using scraps of paper, neatly folded unused tissues (to let the world know you are still classy), or dog-eared pages. Unfortunately, I have no perforating powers, so you're stuck with a traditional page. However, I encourage you to bust out some scissors and perforate it yourself. You could even go Martha Stewart with it and glue on some decorative macaroni.
So, here is my list:
So, here is my list:
- Christy: The love of my life. We are opposite in nearly every way and we are incomplete without one another. She's amazing. And she's hot.
- Brad: My mentor. He introduced himself to me as a philosopher and that's what he is – a man who loves wisdom, but who loves people even more.
- Javi: A close friend and a phenomenal teacher. He's got the soul of an artist and he works harder, with more passion, than anyone I know.
- Quinn: A business bohemian, he's a man who with the heart of a troubadour and the lifestyle of a corporate executive.
- Doyle: A man I know only in the cyber-vapor kind of way. I think he's the best blogger on the planet. He's the man responsible for my newfound love of science.
- Johnny: A kid I tutored from fifth grade through high school. We still see each other sometimes. He's a fighter, in the good kind of way and has faced tough odds to succeed in his learning journey.
- Joel, Micah, Brenna: My kids have taught me so much – how to laugh and be silly, how to dance, how to notice a moon or an ant hill and how to make up a song along the way. They have been a bigger part of this journey than I could have ever imagined.
about this work
While I strive to be honest in my depiction of the classroom and I base my stories on incidents within my own life, there are details, names and events that I change in order to protect the identity and narratives of my students. It is not my job to tell their story, but only my own. Some call a personal narrative narcissistic and maybe this is. However, ultimately I feel that the only expert knowledge I have to offer is that of my own story. If it can connect to the larger conversations on education reform, I am grateful.
The work began as a challenge from Tom Roth, an educator I admire. After reading Sages and Lunatics, he suggested that I take the work from my blog Musings from a Not-So-Master Teacher and turn it into a book. I quickly realized that most of what I wrote was either currently irrelevant or a topic that no longer interested me.
Within the same time frame, I wrote a blog post called “The Impact Paradox,” about the notion that the way to have an impact is to focus less on having an impact. As I began to outline a potential book, I realized that the “less is more” concept was not so much about impact or choice, but about humility.
I can be arrogant. Real arrogant. Mean in my arrogance. I can be a bulldozer or a brick thrower. Yet, I've found that my best moments as a teacher happen when I am humbled. That's what this story is all about – it's an ideological journey through the paradox of humility.
I readily admit that much of the source material is taken from my blog. If it feels like a real bad string of re-runs, I apologize. The good news is that the book is pretty cheap, so it wasn't entirely wasted, right?
This work is a little different in the fact that I want it to be interactive. It is available in hard copy, as an e-book, as an audio book and in a blog format. Please visit the blog at teachingunmasked.blogspot.com to comment on any sections within the book, to view a few videos about teaching unmasked and to join an ongoing discussion.