Open For Business

Jun 1, 2022

The title of today’s entry means two things to me. I will begin with a quote I put at the front of my first book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. “Teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability” Parker Palmer. Yesterday I returned to the classroom; four classrooms actually and at least three of them were former classrooms I’d inhabited for a year or more during my 29 year teaching career. After thirteen years of retirement it felt in some ways as if I’d never left and in other ways like I’d never been there. I returned as an author for the first in person author visit I’d done since February 2020. I was concerned I’d forgotten how to do it. I hadn’t forgotten. I began my day with Mrs. Thorpe’s Grade Four class. That was delightful on many levels. My grandson Skyler greeted me with a big hug and a wide smile. I knew several kids and  realized I taught several of their parents. Mrs. Thorpe herself was once a student of mine and she did her student teaching with me. The kids were engaged and generous . They had excellent questions and I enjoyed my short visit with them. Next I went to the Grade 7/8 class; a tougher crowd but overall attentive and courteous. Another grandchild greeted me there but not with as   much obvious enthusiasm. Grade seven is a whole different ballgame. Next I had lunch in the staff room and it felt like old times. Some of the staff I left behind are still here but many of the people around the tables I did not know. The atmosphere felt exactly the same and I felt the  demands I  remember  so well. I must applaud these people as they have endured two very difficult and demanding years and still show up every day for their students. I was not sure I had the stamina to do the afternoon but rallied and made my way to the 6/7 class. They were great. They have begun reading Skyward and they had lots of thoughtful questions. I finished the day with a short visit to the Grade Five class and again had the pleasure of another grandchild . She had hugged me in the hall  earlier  so she tried to blend in and not draw too much attention to herself. I am very tired today and again am reminded just how taxing teaching is and how I was smart to leave when I did. But as an author and especially in my home school greeted by friends, grand kids and familiar faces yesterday’s visit was everything a successful author visit should be. I  am grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to share my work and my love of  story. Thank you MCS!

Now to the second meaning. The hardest  or the most draining  part of my author visits is the opening up I do. I tell a personal story of love and loss and it is never easy. I am open and honest and hopefully show my true self. It is the only way I know how to be but it takes a lot out of me. I spend lots of time talking about the process of writing , the challenges of getting published and all the other  aspects of being a writer. But interspersed I hope are aspects of being human and living life to the best of my ability. I am always rewarded when I open up. Kids are  struggling with the same challenges we are and I have always found them to be caring , sensitive and honest in their responses. In my opinion if we are not open to being exactly who we are there is no point showing up. As the school year winds down I have one more school visit and will meet with a grade four class who have been reading The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. I look forward to everything that will bring. Maybe next year I will find the time and energy to book a few more school visits and I will again make the effort to be ‘open for business’.


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