March 16, 2006
Is it really four and a half months since my last blog entry? I guess I needed a bit of a break and frankly, there wasn’t much to write about during my two months “off” between mid-November and mid-January. I actually spent most of that time finishing a major revision to a third edition of 21st Century Discipline. I had hoped to be done before my break but ended up writing nearly the entire time I was home.
My rationale for doing this (aside from honoring a publishing contract deadline and the fact that this book really needed a significant overhaul) is that I actually enjoyed the time I spent writing AND that I wasn’t on the road or presenting to teachers during those two months.
So let me tell you what I’ve been up to since my last entry…
21st Century Discipline
You may remember that I’m working with a new publisher, Corwin (Sage) on this new version of 21st Century Discipline. The book is now in the midst of a process I’ve never experienced called peer review. I wrote to a bunch of my colleagues and friends, people whose opinions I value, trust, and respect, and asked if they’d look over the latest edition.
To my immense surprise, the majority said yes, so there are a couple dozen copies out. I’m blown away by the devotion to detail and time these individuals, many of them at least, are devoting to this book. I believe the next step will be for me (and my editor) to look over their comments and decide what to incorporate or change. So stay tuned on that front. I have a bit of a break in the action in the next few weeks and I assume that’ll be where my time goes.
Dr. Bluestein does a High School Assembly
Two years ago, when Eric and I started soliciting contributions to High School’s Not Forever, a wonderful teacher and former workshop participant, John Keydash, got a bunch of his students at Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida, to send in lists of their likes and dislikes, along with a few essays and comments. These were our first contributions from kids and the material formed the foundation for this book.
When he and my colleagues at HCI (the book’s publisher) managed to set up another book signing in Jensen Beach, I changed my return ticket from a job in Tuscaloosa earlier this week, so I could spend a few days in Florida. I also figured this would be a good time to visit family in the area and agreed to stop by the school and say hi to Mr. Keydash and his students.
Well, things started to snowball and this informal visit ended up turning into a full-blown assembly with me sitting in front of about 200 high school kids, many of whom had read the book, although none of the contributors (who are all seniors now, about half at another school) were in the audience.
Now I’ve been working with teachers for the past 25 years and other than some volunteer work (wherein I rarely dealt with more than a half-dozen kids at a time, at most), my experience in presenting to kids, particularly high school students, for Pete’s sake, was woefully limited. So this was a rather intimidating prospect for me.
Nonetheless, John and I sat on the stage, with him “interviewing” me (à la Inside the Actor’s Studio) about how and why we wrote the book. We turned the questions over to the kids and got some amazingly intelligent, thoughtful, and thought-provoking (respectfully challenging) inquiries.
And it worked. It was one of the most uplifting, encouraging, and delightful experiences I’ve had in a long time. I so totally enjoyed the kids I met, was so impressed by the intelligence and authenticity they displayed, that I walked away remembering why I was called to this often-frustrating profession. I haven’t been that buzzed from a work experience, or that full of hope, in a long time.
I’ve done four in the past three weeks. Three were in the San Diego area, including one event that involved about 100 mentor teachers for a multi-district beginning teacher support program. It was wonderful!
There was also a signing in Jensen Beach, FL after the above assembly. A few kids showed up and some bought their own copies of High School’s Not Forever. The others came maybe for a couple extra credit points, or a chance to hang out in the mall, but a few came to ask me about the book, the writing, whether it had been turned down by a bunch of publishers before it actually got published, things like that. Nice kids, every one of them.
This signing was particularly special for me as I was aided by my 7-year-old niece, Morgan, who was in charge of asking people to select the color pen with which I would sign their books, and making sure that everybody got a bookmark! I kept her up way too late and she had to use the once-a-semester homework pass her teacher gave her (an idea I’ve been sharing in my workshops and was delighted to see in use in her second grade!), but as an understandably over-indulgent aunt, I got to call this an educational experience!!
All in all, a wonderful day!!
MacMania Cruise to Mexico
My sixth geek cruise. I took my mom. We had a blast. It was my first time to any of the ports (Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and here in Mazatlan). The highlight of the trip involved me and Mom in a pool with a bunch of dolphins in PV. In the classes offered, I binged on every Photoshop class I could get into. I learned more than I’ll ever remember, but have things to connect to that I never had before. And I don’t think I’ve ever come away from a class as excited or inspired or more confident in my own abilities than I did on this cruise. Awesome. Much as I’d love to do the Mediterranean cruise this summer, I just couldn’t get my schedule or potential companions to work out this time. (I did four cruises in about 14 months so no complaints.) Wonderful experience. Check out their web site. Seriously.
Last Year’s Resolutions and plans…
Looking back at where I was at the beginning of 2005, let’s see how much progress I actually made.
• Seeking balance and moderation in my life
MUCH better. It has helped that I took off time over the holidays and cut back on my speaking commitments. I’ve even made a pact with a friend to take Fridays off through the end of April (other than previously scheduled classes and seminars). Working on creative projects, including this web site or products is allowed, but no clerical stuff, phone conferences, or ordinary “work.” Stay tuned.
• Clear out the rest of the closeout inventory.
Of the the 350 titles we had in our last catalogue, we have one copy of one book remaining. I will probably give it away this week just to finally close out that chapter of my life. So for all intents and purposes, this one can be checked off!!
• Create new products.
I’ve been wanting to get my Teacher Tapes on CD, bring out the CDs for counselors, and put a number of our products (“Pads” on the Back, TeacherSaver Memo Pads and the article, “Positively Positive,” among other things) on a CD as well. And no, I haven’t done any of them. I also am planning on bringing out a collection of my Article Reprints in a book of article reprints. I have the pages laid out but not fully formatted yet. Nor do I have a cover or back cover yet. Perhaps the time off from clerical stuff will allow me more time to work on these fun projects.
• Create a dedicated Web site for our new book, High School’s Not Forever.
DONE! Click here to visit the site. (Note, Nov. 2012: All of my Web sites will be re-constructed in WordPress over the next year or two, so this one hasn’t been updated in quite a while. Still has some good stuff on it, though.)
• Set up a shopping cart on this site.
I started, messed something up in the code for the shipping and can’t untangle it. Moved to 06 goals (below).
• Create an account with Pay Pal.
• Create a link with Amazon.com. Maybe…
Still a maybe.
• Create a data base and site map for this site.
This site has so much information on it, on one hand, a data base would really help. On the other, every time I’ve tried to lay out this site, I get really bogged down. Still a possibility, perhaps for some time when I actually would have the time to explore this.
• Bring out a new version of the formerly-retired Book of Article Reprints for people who want to purchase all of my articles in one place!
Coming. I even found a few articles and contributions to books that I’ve never made available commercially that I’ve thrown in.
• Clean out my office files, my garage, my studio.
This is ongoing. I haven’t touched the garage but I have gone through the studio and a lot of my files. Much progress on this front.
• Get my studio files up on this site.
While I have made time to do more craft work, and even explore some new media and materials, I really haven’t gotten very far with this section of the site. Again, a bit of free time would help but this will eventually happen. (Note: Nov. 2012: I finally set up a separate site on iWeb and will eventually be moving the entire contents to WordPress, however this is a fairly low priority, so as long as iWeb continues to work, you can see it here. In the meantime, I still have this site to finish and two others to convert.)
• Keep walking (I love shooting for 10K steps a day!) and avoid eating stupid when I’m on the road.
On and off. I’ve taken a few Tai Chi classes in the past month or two and think this might be another potential avenue for me.
• Enhance and improve the Links section of this site.
Ongoing, but BIG progress here.
• Actually set up the idea sharing sections in our various Forums.
Resources are in the piles in these boxes so maybe this year.
• Write more articles.
No time. Really.
• Revisit the possibility of revising Parents in a Pressure Cooker.
I actually spent a week or two working with the material but think that my approach to adult-child relationships has evolved in a way that might make this goal unworkable. Still, I did manage to bring 21st Century Discipline up to my current context and approach (and language and examples…) so it’s not completely off the table. But I do have a lot of other stuff that deserve my time and attention more.
• Revise the manuscript of 21st Century Discipline once I receive the peer review and editorial comments, to get the production of this third edition on its way.
• Develop the products listed above and get them listed on this site.
• Create a place for visitors to this site to sign up for notification of new products, for example, or a newsletter, perhaps one day. (Note, Nov. 2012: This took another 6 and a half years to get going, but I do have a newsletter and sign-up spaces now.)
• Clear out the clutter I threw into boxes and crates a few months ago when I “cleaned” my office. This means a lot of filing, sorting, tossing, stuff I really hate doing.
• Start looking at Being a Successful Teacher, which is up next for revision.
• Go through the mountain of books, articles, and suggestions, and expand the resources and ideas offered on this site.
• Get the shopping cart I started to build for this site actually working. (The one on the High School’s not Forever site works just fine!)
• Get new business cards printed. I’m going to face down my fear of Adobe Illustrator and just put something together. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do it in InDesign (which actually makes sense to me), but I’ve put this off way too long.
• Work on marketing the High School book.
• Create a search function for this site, which takes me back to a data base or at least a site map. (Note, Nov. 2012: It took a move to Word Press for this to happen, but it’s here.)
May 9, 2006
It’s going on 11 p.m. and I really don’t have time for this. I just sent off the final revisions on the 3rd edition of 21st Century Discipline to my editor. I have been working on this project, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else, because the alternative to getting it in by tomorrow would have meant not getting the book listed in the fall catalogue. Not good.
I’m a little fried to try to talk about this process, or even decide how happy I am with the finished product right now. (Pretty much, I think. I really worked hard to get rid of some of the stuff from earlier editions that just sounded stilted or stale, the parts that don’t jibe with the way I talk about— or think about— these issues any more.)
Taking a breath
I leave for the Twin Cities tomorrow afternoon and I’m still not completely packed yet. I’m actually taking a couple of days off to visit my friend, Linda Sorenson, and her family and just spend time not working. I don’t actually work until Saturday morning!
Perhaps it’s fortuitous (is that still a word?) that my laptop is still in the shop. Well actually it’s on its way back to Albuquerque and should be arriving just as I’m taking off tomorrow. I’m so burned out on our local service places and how long it takes to get these diagnostics run, repairs done, and stuff shipped back and forth. (Note, Nov. 2012: Oh, the joy of finally getting an Apple store in town a couple of years ago. This was always a nightmare!)
Not to mention the stress of having to reinstall software and updates again (goodbye to two more days of my life). Let’s hope this hardware works. Damn.
Must finish stuff on my desk and get some sleep!
May 20, 2006
Web site redesign… again!??
There are a couple of things I’ve been wanting to do with this site for a couple of years. As the site has grown, with more and more documents like articles, book excerpts, and handouts, I’ve been wanting to set up a data base and pages that would just display the documents (or workshops or whatever) for the appropriate or selected audience.
I’ve also wanted to be able to sort— and search!— this site by topic or keyword. And I’ve wanted a place for people to sign up on a mailing lists so that I could let them know, for example, when a new book was being released.
I now know how to do that, sort of, or at least get things started, and in the typical spirit of “well, as long as I’m doing that…” I will probably be restructuring the way some of these pages will display.
It’s still very much in the conceptualizing stages, and, for the moment, whatever changes I make will probably appear in the current structure of the site. I’ll announce these changes here in my blog, or in the rarely-visited (and not-well-maintained) What’s New section of the site which, I just realized, I haven’t touched since a year ago today. Hmmm… Must do something about that.
I’m on a commuter jet to LA and then fly to Santa Barbara where I rent a car and drive up another hour or so to visit my friend Kathy up in Paso Robles. It’s a bit of a break before a week of trainings in Thousand Oaks and San Marcos, possibly with a site visit in between. I haven’t seen Kathy in well over a year and I’m looking forward to having some time to hang out together.
Also, after weeks of not having a working laptop on the road with me, just being able to work on this— on anything— is huge!