Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Book Signing

On June 12, 2008 I attended a "book signing" for my friend Lisa Burman to celebrate the publication of her first book Are You Listening? Fostering Conversations That Help Young Children Learn.

I put "book signing" in quotes (which would be much more effective if you could imagine me doing the air quotes thing with my hands) because we had the party before the actual release of the book.

Luckily, there were a few copies available to pass around and pose with, but mine didn't arrive until Lisa was already back in Australia. But she has promised to inscribe mine as instructed "To Gary, my constant inspiration" (or other such sentiments).

In the book, which I began reading today, Lisa documents the positive effects of engaging children in conversation. She shares that is was her "study tour to Reggio Emilia in northern Italy that transformed my wonderings about children's thinking into a passion".

The book is dedicated "To the staff and students of PS 347, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, where I learned to listen with more than my ears" and then proceeds to highlight many of her experiences and interactions at our school. (How cool is that?)

But even cooler things happen in Chapter 3 - Creating the Right Environments for Conversation. This is where I get my one and only mention. (I am told that the editors cut other mentions - darn it. But since this book is geared more towards the preschool/kindergarten classrooms I can't complain too much.)

Anyway, there I am on page 69 under the header 'Sense of Identity'. Lisa writes:
The first thing I see when I enter Lauren and Gary's first-grade classroom is a small bookcase facing the doorway. Plants on the top shelf bring softness and life into the old school building. On the shelves are simple wooden picture frames, bought at the dollar store across the street, containing delightful photographs of each child. There is no doubt what - or who - is important in this room.
As I read this chapter I thought about the commitment that Lauren and I made to have fresh flowers in our class each week. About the cozy spaces for one to one conversations or quite places to read a book. I was reminded that we valued each child by thoughtfully hanging their writing and art work, providing labels to indicate that 'this space belongs to me' and arranging materials in a way that is conducive to learning; free from clutter and disorganization.

I was reminded of the thought that has gone into creating a happy, welcoming environment and am thrilled that Lisa has provided new teachers (or experienced teachers who are looking for a new way to do things) a guide of sorts to achieve a more kid friendly classroom.

And I am also reminded that teaching is a gift. A gift that requires many things including being present, there in the moment.

And to answer your question Lisa, "Yes, I am listening".


WAT said...

Oh, how I love Gary in pictures and most especially on YouTube clips with Lauren! ;)

The future of our planet is in dire straits. Not to be negative, but my point basically is that YOU and countless other educators are unsung heroes hopefully inspiring and helping foster the productive citizens/humans we will need to face the difficult days ahead. Am I making sense? God, I hope so.

And by the way, I'm dying for a good comprehensive Linda Ronstadt post. I like her, and most especially find her Mexican background quite fascinating. Oh shoot, I think I may end up with a post on this soon, unless you beat me to it.

la bellina mammina said...

What a sweet tribute to you & Lauren, and that's a fantastic idea, having the bookcase with phots and the plants.

You & Lauren truly, truly care about your children! They are really lucky!!

Is the book on sale anywhere? I think it will be an interesting read.

Dumdad said...

How wonderful.

We all now await a book from you, Gary!

Barbara said...

Bravo to you and Lauren. You didn't need to be mentioned in a book to remind you that you are loved and appreciated by "your" children. But it never hurts! You are making a huge difference in launching these young lives in a world that will not always be kind to them. At least it is a loving and gentle start. Kudos!

Gary said...

Wat - A comprehensive Linda Ronstadt post! Be still my heart. Where to begin and how can I connect that with education (except perhaps to discuss her Catholic school experience where she tried to shock the nuns with her short skirts and sexy behavior). I would love to read YOUR post on Linda. BTW - Her 62nd birthday is coming up on the 15th which might make a good time to post.

Also, You made great sense with the sentiments in the second paragraph. I think I may do a post soon about the 'dire straits' of our planet. What a mess. Will it all be over in 2012?

La Bellina - If you click on the title of the book in the post it will bring you to ordering information on I can't believe they are selling used copies already!

Dumdad - From your lips (keyboard) to God's ears. I think I should just string together a bunch of blog posts and publish that. A little tweaking here and there and I'm set.

Barbara - You are right of course. But a little shout out every once in a while is nice. And comments like yours and the ones above serve the same purpose. It is heartening to have recognition and support along our journeys, is it not? So thank you for that. All of you.

Pauline said...

Teaching is a gift - what a great way to put it. And you're right - it's a gift we get to unwrap each morning and share with those little faces around us. What job could be better than that?

Congratulations on being mentioned in a book for your good work!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

kudo's to lisa on the publication of her book. and I think you are right, with just the right bit of tweaking and editing you could turn the posts of 'follow your bliss' into a great book!

your classroom is all about the kids - happily the editors had the sense not to cut that passage too as it is a wonderful example of what one can do to help celebrate the children!

Joy Keaton said...

I'm glad the editors let you have at least one mention!!! Your classrooms have always been amazing and each year they get even better (which is astounding) but what I want to know is: when are you going to come and make MY apartment into a place that is free from clutter and disorganization. Geez. Be a pal, wouldja'??? xo

Gary said...

Pauline - I like that...a gift to unwrap each morning. And what is inside is always a surprise isn't it?

Kimy - I am so glad that you had the opportunity to visit and meet the children. Perhaps one day I will call upon you for book ideas.

Joy - You just know I have been wanting to get my hands on your place for a while now honey. But, it does seem that you are making progress in that direction all by yourself. A little before and after photo selection shows that.

ciara said...

this is way cool to be mentioned in a book that talks about reading. i love, love, love the bookcase with all the students' photos in it. that shows that you and lauren take pride in what you do, and that you value your students. i just wish all teachers could be like that (you know there are those out there who don't give a son had to deal w a few in his hs years).

as for your comment back @ dumdad....i could definitely see your blog being turned into a book. everything is well written and very informative...anyone who would read it could see how much you love teaching.

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Congrats to Lauren -- and DANG! You look handsome! I have a book chapter coming out later in the Fall - and I'm WAY excited!

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

OK, so I THOUGHT it was LISA, but everyone else kept using the name Lauren, so I figured I had it wrong - and I had it right! Congrats to LISA is what I meant to say - Lauren was a later topic!

Gary said...

Ciara - Thanks! You are so good to me.

J.DZ-S - I think I look a bit drunk in that picture even though I am not. But I do love Lisa's expression.

Tell me more about your chapter being published. I'd love to check it out. Congratulations! You are on a roll!

wholesale dollar store merchandise said...

Oh! i was around then at that book signing and i didnt know what was going on! That is great!



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