My new book, Powerful Writing Structures, published by Pembroke Publishing, was released this past February. This book, like my previous ones, was a labour of love. It is a culmination of everything I love about teaching writing: writing joy, writing goals, mini lessons, brain pockets, writing structures, anchor books, responsive teaching, formative assessment.. it’s all there! It is a book I wrote for my first-year teacher self; a book I wish I had had in my early teaching days when the only writing I remember doing with my students was “I’m Thankful For…” stuck onto a paper turkey in October and “Peace is…” stuck onto a paper poppy in November.
I presented my book officially at the Reading for the Love Of It conference in Toronto on February 20th, 2020. My dear friend Cheryl (who is also a teacher) was there, as she always is, cheering me on from the front row. The response from participants was overwhelming and I felt a surge of pride and excitement. (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Teachers are going to LOVE this book!”) The book sold out at the conference and, needless to say, my publisher was thrilled. (Isn’t that right, Mary?)
This spring, I was scheduled to present workshops on my new book at many schools and districts across BC and at several larger conferences including ones in Banff, Whistler, Whitehorse, and Melbourne, Australia. Among other events, I was invited to do a book talk at United Library Services in Burnaby in April for their spring book sale and my good friend Sue, a principal in Kelowna, was planning a district book launch for me in May.
Enter Covid19. And just like that, everything stopped. Literally stopped. At a time of year when my inbox is usually flooded with workshop requests for the following school year, it is overflowing with cancellations. The boxes of my new book I had ordered to sell at these upcoming workshops sit unopened in my garage. All workshops for the foreseeable future have, in fact, been cancelled and none are being booked. Let’s face it – Pro. D. will certainly not be held again for months, if not years, and will most likely never look the same. And so I am slowly coming to the realization that the profession I love as a literacy consultant, educational public speaker, and workshop presenter is no longer. This is my new reality. And, if I’m being honest with you, it kind of sucks. Yes, there are ways to present virtually, I have been told. Yes, I can learn to do webinars and Zoom workshops and online in-services. But nothing compares to the joy I feel standing in front of a group of educators (second only to students), sharing my passion, my lessons, and my stories. And with just a few weeks into the online teaching experience, you know first hand that the reciprocal energy, laughter, and emotional connections that are ever present in person can never be replicated through a screen.
Now, the thing I’ve learned about a global pandemic is that it sucks the wind out of an ocean full of sails – artists, athletes, actors, public speakers, performers, chefs, shop keepers, servers, priests and pastors, beauticians and stylists, therapists and counselors – any sailboat where groups of people gather, large or small, has been forced to dock. And many of the boats that have involuntarily and abruptly stopped sailing are far more important than mine and, in many cases, completely life altering. It’s also hard to wallow in self pity when so many are suffering. So for some time, I have been keeping to myself about my disappointment that I am out of a job (hey, you’re not the only one), that I’m going to have to reinvent myself somehow (what the heck am I going to do now?) and nobody is buying my new book (seriously, Adrienne? no one cares about your book right now).
Like you, I have done my best to adjust to the new normal: I am amused by and participate in the constant stream of self-isolation and online teaching memes and posts (I am obsessed with pluto.living); I am enjoying this gift of time with my family; I’ve experienced my first Google Hangout Book Club meeting and taken part in several virtual happy hours; I have purchased a supply of not so effective root cover up; I listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s updates religiously every day and admire her shoes and her grace; I join my neighbours every night at 7 pm to honor the front line workers, ringing my dad’s old school bell from our front porch; I cry at the thought of people not being able to hold the hand of a loved one and say their last goodbyes. And so the excitement and pride I usually feel when a book is finally out of my head and out into the world has become so terribly insignificant in comparison to the disruption and devastation going on, it feels completely inappropriate to be even mentioning it.
But yesterday during my daily 6-feet-apart-run in the woods with Cheryl and our dogs (aka- my morning fix of friendship and forest), she gave me some advice. She told me that I should NOT stay silent about my new book any longer. It’s time, she said. Teachers will want to know about your new book and will want to read it. And so, after some reflecting, I have taken her advice because she is my oldest (not in age but in friendship years) and dearest, and that’s what friends do. And also because I love my new book and I want you to love it, too.
This was her advice…
BLOG POST: She said I should write a blog post about my new book so that at least people know that the book is out and that it’s available. (You are reading that post now)
BRAG: She said I should not be shy to brag about the book. Here is my brag:
My new book, Powerful Writing Structures: Brain Pocket Strategies for Supporting a Year Long Reading Program, is a practical, user-friendly book that includes everything you need to know about teaching writing in elementary school. It is an excellent professional resource. I highly recommend it.
BOOK TRAILER: She said I should make a little video book trailer telling people about it. But don’t make the video too long because people will lose interest.
I tried to make a short trailer – but this one is 16 min.
And then I tried to make a shorter one but this one’s even longer one… 23 minutes.
BUY THE BOOK: She said I should add a link to the blog post so people could buy the book if they want. But make sure to give a discount because everyone is giving discounts right now.
Here is my link to buy my book. Yes, there is a discount.
TESTIMONIAL: She said I need some testimonials. She offered to write one. She may be a little bias, but here it is.
Powerful Writing Structures is an excellent combination of Adrienne Gear’s previous two books on writing; Writing Power and Writing Power Non- Fiction. Powerful Writing Structures is a teacher friendly total writing program. It is well organized, practical and easy to use. It is all you need to help your students develop their writing skills. I wish I had this resource when I began my teaching career. I will definitely be using this book in my classroom. – Cheryl Burian (Gr. 1-2 teacher, SD 38-Richmond, B.C.)
MORE BLOGS: Finally, she said after this blog post about my new book, I should really think about posting lesson ideas for online teaching because that is what teachers need most right now. Stay tuned.
I know that the health and safety of all those you love and cherish is and should be at the forefront of your heart and mind during this time. Many of you may also be struggling with the new reality of online teaching and the many challenges that brings, particularly if you have young children at home. But if you have read to the end of this blog post, whether or not you are interested in my new book or not, I thank you for reading it. I also thank you for all you are doing to support your children at home, your students, your family, your neighbours, and your pets during this strange and challenging time. We are in this together and together I believe we will come through it a little wiser, more compassionate, and without a doubt, more grateful. Be well, everyone.
And thank you, Cheryl.