Monday, May 1, 2017

My Book!

BookCoverPreviewVersion100 (2).jpgIntroducing...Dear Teachers

Dear Teachers. A book of 40 essays and scenes from nature written for teachers to support & inspire them along their way.

I am very pleased to announce that I have written a book and put it out there on Amazon! As I explained to my 13-year old, who was clearly looking for some windfall he could capitalize upon for his own video game desires, “No, I was not told by someone that ‘You have something amazing to say, let me publish it for you!’ It’s actually an ‘I want to say something so I’m just going to go out and say it.’ type of thing.” It is what it is. Self-published from my heart.

I’m pretty happy with it.

I hope this work becomes a sort of friend to readers over the school year. Perhaps the photos done by my friend Marlene Oswald will be what you enjoy and you flip through for their beauty. A single subject heading may leap out and compel you to reply to it on the provided blank lines. Or, you may find time to sit with each week’s whole deal and gain from all three: visuals on nature, written word and tactile writing response. (I also discovered in my editing work that listening to relaxing music while reading adds another layer as well.)

For this work, I took myself on a journey to answer questions I had about teacher strengths, struggles and experiences. I found new questions to probe into along the way. I’ve discovered new people as well, and fell back on old inspirations with new eyes. I’ve had to ask people for help. I’ve been able to receive and give my thanks. My views have both changed and broadened.

It’s been a fun ride that’s not over yet.

I’ve made a commitment to another year with this material and any readers wishing to connect online. I wrote Dear Teachers as a conversation and I want it to be real, so I’ve set up a group for readers on Facebook (Dear Teachers Discussion Group) where we can walk the path of a school year together. I want to see if my thoughts have meaning for and make connections with teachers living the life on a daily basis.

All of life can be a lesson. I’m very grateful for what this part has taught me so far.

Dear Teachers FAQs

  • What’s up with the name of the book?

Dear Teachers began as a letter to my teacher friends. To me, each teacher is “dear”, meaning “special and cherished”. As we are also all in this field together and the book’s message is for us all, I chose the plural form of the word. I wanted the title to remind us that we are all connected to one another and we are all valued and valuable.

  • What are you going to do on Facebook?

I’m excited to use Facebook as a means to keep the dialogue going with my readers. Please find it by searching Dear Teachers Discussion Group and sign up! I plan on posting additional thoughts beginning in September 2017 on the essays as the first year goes and I hope readers offer reviews and responses to the weeks’ writings. We may discuss the backgrounds on some of the photos in the book as well. The Facebook page is another voluntary mechanism to communicate, and we will see how it evolves.

  • Why is Dear Teachers written the way it is?

Quite a few things came together to make Dear Teachers. I think quite a bit about big ideas, how things relate and what I can do to help make the world and our relationship with it more positive. Growing up, I wanted to be an artist or writer for the wonder I felt. I loved the process of constructing stories but struggled with life’s “Whys”. I received a well-rounded arts & sciences education and in college, focused on environmental science, which further fed my desire to make connections and find explanations. I was finally able to bring it all together: science, storytelling, art and making philosophical connections after I began working in the field of education.

  • My school year starts in early August. Can I still use this book?

Each essay in Dear Teachers is labeled by a suggested month as well as week of the school year. You can use whichever label works best for you. If you start earlier or later than the first week of September, the only things you may notice are a slight variation on holiday references. If I have enough readers on the Facebook page with other start dates, I will support them with additional writing as I am able to.

  • I work in Florida. We don’t have winter like you do in Wisconsin. Is Dear Teachers applicable to me?

I know many teachers who would love to not have to deal with winter! While it’s true that I write from the perspective of 4 extremely different seasons, I think the premise of the book still applies in warmer climates. Heat is a struggle, too, for example. I look forward to getting responses to my essays from teachers in a variety of zones!

  • Will you write more books like this?

It is my intention to continue! I already envision an upgraded framework for a second edition of Dear Teachers, extending the essay count to a full calendar year and stretching the imagery to include a broader range of habitats and perhaps going truly international with both the illustrations and the essays. In addition, I have 2 additional focus groups dear to my heart who I’m currently developing projects for: those with diabetes and the male youths (and their parents) of today. Stay tuned to my blog at and Twitter @sbaumgartner94 for updates!

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