June 26 , 2006

New cover

21st Century Discipline, which became The Win-Win Classroom by Dr. Jane BluesteinI just got a copy of what will be the new cover for the 3rd edition of 21st Century Discipline. I really like it. For the last 20 years, the various other editions (which have been available through at least 8 or 9 different publishers) have all featured stars against a blue-black sky. I never quite got the connection, but had gotten so used to that image in relation to this book that it was impossible for me to think of it in any other terms.

I think this new cover is warm and appealing. I like the colors and the layout, and the fact that it manages to avoid the teacher-cutesy images that plague so many resources for educators. It’s warm and professional and since this edition is so significantly different from the last one, I think it calls for a totally new look.

Inspiration

For years, I’ve been referring to the movie The Miracle Worker, a 1962, black-and-white movie that had an enormous impact on me when I first saw it as a pre-teen. It had been years since I’d seen it so I rented it again and just watched it this afternoon. I’m pleased to report that it still holds up beautifully as an inspiring and heart-warming film about teaching— and those breakthrough moments we all live for. I heartily recommend tracking down a copy, especially for anyone who’s really kind of burned out or who wants some perspective on how difficult and oppositional a student can be! And what persistence, faith and love can ultimately accomplish.

Goals revisited

Boy, between travel and finishing the revision, I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped. However, I did put some time, money, and energy into marketing the High School’s Not Forever book. I just got back from the American Library Association convention, the first big convention in New Orleans since “the storm,” and the first time I’d been there in years. No, I didn’t see much of the violence or destruction we’ve all been hearing about. Tourists are pretty well insulated from all that unless they go looking for it, or so I’m told. I felt OK being there. The convention center was in great shape and even staying right on Bourbon Street (getting in on a rather lively Saturday night at close to 2 in the morning thanks to weather delays) wasn’t bad.

I signed several boxes’ worth of books, met a lot of nice people, and presumably will get copies of the book into a number of libraries, high schools, middle schools, and kids’ hands. (Many people asked for copies for kids in their own families or neighborhoods.) Ultimately, this probably won’t have much of an impact on sales, but for whatever reason, my publisher was excited about the book’s appeal to this market and going to this convention felt like something I needed to do.

Perhaps during this three-week stay at home, I’ll see some progress on some of these other goals, including the redesign I mention below!

July 25, 2006

Back to School

I’m on a flight out of Atlanta, returning home from a lovely first-day-of-school (for me) in Joliet, IL. Weird routing and a VERY long flying day but I’ve booked with Delta to maintain my Platinum status for another year and to increase the odds of getting upgraded to first class, which rarely happens on other carriers.

I’ve been up since forever and am totally exhausted—I never have slept well right before my first day at school, and this goes back to kindergarten. (You’d think after 50 years of back to school experience that the excitement would have worn off. Not yet, not here at least.)

I have had a wonderful month at home. Trying to get my health together—these past few years on the road really caught up with me and I had a number of concerns to address. I’m feeling quite a bit better than I did earlier this month, but I’m nowhere near 100% yet. Still, just being home was indescribably lovely and as excited as I was about kicking off another year, I found it really hard to get myself psyched about the usual airport-rental car-hotel shuffle and the 16- to 18-hour days they often entail (certainly true this trip).

21st Century Discipline: NEW EDITION

Since my last entry, I got the edited manuscript back from Corwin. This is always a nerve-wracking experience, even when I’m working with editors who know me, and who have worked with my writing in the past. This latest edition involves a new publisher and all new editors (acquisition, production, and copy editors) and although I had a VERY good feeling about the company from the start, I was hoping that these new people would somehow manage to “get” me, and clean up whatever needed to be cleaned up without leveling my voice or changing the content or what I was intending to say.

I have to share how incredibly impressed I was with the work they did on this manuscript. Although I haven’t seen the final layout, I think that my production editor has a clear vision for how the text and graphics are going to appear. And my copy editor was remarkable. She found dozens of typos (and this after I re-read and corrected this thing a zillion times) and tightened text and grammar (this editor uses different conventions than the ones I got used to using with HCI!) and ended up boosting my understanding of the idiosyncracies of this amazing language tremendously.

In looking over my earlier writing, it’s really clear to me that whatever improvements I’ve made— and I believe them to be substantial (blog entries notwithstanding) as some of my first efforts were really BAD!— are at least in part a function of good editing I’ve encountered over the years. I’m always grateful for feedback that helps me focus and sharpen any skills that will serve this craft, as it were. I may never really sort out the difference between that and which, and I’m frankly appalled at some of the mistakes I made but I swear I’m smarter than I was a month ago, and that’s always a good thing.

21st Century Discipline: Current Edition

The third (new) edition will not be out until December of this year. In the meantime, I’m still getting a LOT of orders for the current, 2nd-edition book. If you’ve been visiting my blogs over the years, you may remember that a couple of years ago, I bought all remaining copies of this book from its last publisher and have just about exhausted the supply. So while this book has officially been out of print for a couple of years, I have been able to make it available to anyone who found their way to me or this Web site, and it has been my intention of keeping it available for anyone who wants copies until the new version is released.

This is a book that is often ordered by schools and districts from 30 to 600 at a time! We’re down to our last 10 copies or so and have orders for over 1000 books on back order at the moment! So I’ve spent much of the summer (and my “free” time at home) laying out a copy that will resemble, as closely as possible, the existing book. (There are University courses and schools that use a study guide that refers to specific pages or activities and I tried to create a volume that allow these guides to still be relevant.)

The project really challenged my skills with my page layout program, Adobe InDesign, which I’ve been using for years but tend to have some kludgy ways of doing certain things. I clearly need to spend a week or so going through my manuals and CDs to really nail some of the processes I use most. For better or worse, I seem to know just enough to sort-of pull off these projects and there is always a project on deck so I never seem to have time to really refine my layout skills. Nonetheless, I got the layout in to the printer earlier this week and should be getting the proofs to review tomorrow.

Sept. 25, 2006

Heading home from Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland by Jane BluesteinOnce again, I’m typing at 35,000 feet, this time on the flight out of Edinburgh after eight days touring Scotland. A fantastic trip and a wonderful break which included a visit to a number of castles (Edinburgh, Cawdor, Urquhart, and Eilean Donan at left), a little cruise on Loch Ness and even a brief stop at a Faerie Glen on the Isle of Skye!

My traveling companion, Laura Gutman, and I also stopped by a shop on Skye called “Sniomhadair,” which evidently in Gaelic means “Handspinner Having Fun.” Well we certainly had fun! Ever the yarn sluts, we each picked up enough yarn (merino, cashmere, silk) to effectively pad our souvenirs although we’re also likely to look like wool smugglers at customs.

Inverness, Scotland by Jane BluesteinWe spent 3 days in Edinburgh (which I had visited last year for all of about 28 hours), 2 days around St. Andrews (where Laura went to graduate school) and 3 days in Inverness (right). Such beauty, and the people were absolutely lovely. I added some great photos of kids to the slide show I present at the beginning of my seminars and presentations. These are always very special souvenirs for me.

Over the past few months, I’ve come up with this goal of visiting 100 countries before I die. According to the list of countries on the Travelers Century Club Web site, I’ve been to 38. This tends to make me view travel opportunities in terms of new places to visit (and check off the list!), but I would come back to Scotland in a second.

Very cool trip!

Handouts in French, coming soon!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and finally found a willing translator in Maria Petrakis who translated 12 of my parent handouts and articles (the same ones I have in Spanish) into French. I’ve been creating the necessary pages though formatting what I copy and paste from her documents is taking longer than I’d like. This is a priority for me and I will put a link on my home page as soon as the pages are finished— and launched. Probably within a couple of days.

Desperately needing Data Base

As I’m working on these new pages, it’s become very clear that as this site has grown, I really need a data base to manage all the stuff I’ve got here. For months, I’ve been mulling over the structure I’ll need so once I get the French pages up, that will clearly be the next thing to tackle.

Also on the list…

Waiting for me on my desk is a 300-page proof of the pages of the next edition of 21st Century Discipline. I’m giving myself a day or two to de-jetlag myself and then have to take off again— this time, just to Phoenix for a conference in Tempe— so I’ll be working on the final pages on the road.

I’ll also create a Web page for the new book a little closer to its release date— certainly within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, we still have about 4 hours left on this flight, a short layover in Atlanta and then home sweet home!!

Oct. 14, 2006

Home in Bed!

It seems like every year I come down with at least one case of airplane-itis. I’ve been pretty careful about not burning myself out so I honestly thought maybe this year I’d manage to evade all those germs. Feels mostly like a bad cold but I’m feeling pretty crappy and although I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have to get up and present for a few more days (or fly anywhere until the 17th), I also hate spending my time at home in bed!

Site Maps are UP!

There are those wee hours when I’m awake, but not real focused, and now, when I’m present but not real energetic, but in both cases I’m too antsy to just sit and watch TV or even read. These are the times best suited, for me, to mechanical stuff like creating site maps. I have two: One is organized in a table by topic, the other includes all the site content listed and cross-referenced alphabetically. This latter page is nearly done, but not quite. But then I’m still in bed with little else I can work on right now, so probably within the next day or so…

21st Century Discipline: Page Proofs are IN!

I just sent off the corrections and suggestions with the final page proofs for the 3rd edition of 21st Century Discipline. At some point (soon), I’m obviously going to have to create a new page to advertise the new book. Maybe once I have a few more assurances that it will indeed ship in early December. Stay tuned.

Winding down the Semester

It took forever to get over my jet lag from the trip to Scotland. Aside from waking up at all hours of the night (which I kind of do anyhow, but not usually ready for lunch…) and never seeming to have a grasp of what day or time it really was, I felt like I’d left half my brain cells over there. I left nearly all of my presentation stuff at home when I packed for the conference I attended a couple days after I got home, called people at all the wrong times (subtracting, rather than adding hours), and lost track of stuff I’d brought back or things I’d left behind to do when I got back.

The end of the semester is starting to come more clearly into focus. Although I still have another month’s worth of speaking engagements, I’m at that place where nearly all the details of upcoming events are taken care of, so I’m just waiting for the dates and exciting opportunities each presents, and then boom! It’s holiday time again— and, for me, some time off to relax!

Dec. 6, 2006

Greetings from Maui!

Yeah, there’s other stuff going on, but this week I’m on a break, so check out my vacation blog!

Dec. 30, 2006

Up to my ears in snow…

I know we’re at 6000 feet above sea level but we’re also in the desert! It’s been snowing for two days, coming down steadily, in small flakes. Kind of looks like powdered sugar. But the snow is wet and heavy, something we don’t usually see here in the southwest.

Parts of the city have gotten close to two feet. It is certainly the most I’ve seen in the 26 years we’ve been in New Mexico. And while the main streets seem to be open, our neighborhood is socked in, so we’re here for the duration— gratefully, with heat and electricity and plenty of food.

I find this really funny: I would normally be so happy to just have a day to not be running around, but being “stuck” at home is giving me cabin fever. I have plenty to do here, believe me. I’m nowhere near done sorting or cleaning my office (something I’ve been determined to do before I go back out on the road) and I’ve got about a dozen crafts projects to finish or repair, or and another dozen I could easily start! Yet I’m restless and unfocused and not getting anything done.

What’s up with 21st Century Discipline?

Boy, this has been so hard to write about, and is so convoluted and nasty, that I’m thinking about starting a separate page to keep folks updated. I’m not sure, from a legal standpoint, how much I can share, but I do believe that as long as the information is factually accurate, there is no reason I can’t answer this question.

The bottom line is that School Specialty, the publishers who bought the company that brought this book out (and also Being a Successful Teacher) is refusing to revert rights back to me. This in spite of the fact that they put both of these books out of print almost as soon as they acquired them, and (to the best of my knowledge) before they sold a single copy of either one. In addition, they have expressed no interest in the book or in me, and in fact had no idea who I was when I finally got them to respond to my requests for a termination agreement.

Yes, that’s right: They don’t want this book, but they don’t want anybody else to have it either.

As incomprehensible as this is, I am, at a different level, trying to figure out how I went from signing a contract in good faith with a publisher I really respected (Frank Schaffer Publishing) to dealing with the kinds of people I don’t normally attract into my life. (And isn’t it fascinating that a book entirely devoted to developing win-win relationships in a classroom would wind up in the hands of people so apparently entrenched in no-win policies and practices!)

I have a tremendous amount of support right now, although my attorney (among others) has encountered the same colossal degree of indifference and disregard with which I’ve become familiar in my attempts to work with the people at School Specialty.

Still… There’s always been this sense that this is just gonna work out and I’m not sure what the lesson in all this actually is. (I kind of feel like I’m trying to walk through this forest and have snagged my clothes on something and just can’t quite get loose.) This book has been such a big part of who I’ve been professionally for the past 20 years, and commercially, there’s a lot of product loyalty and familiarity.

But it may be that I’m being pushed to bring these ideas forward in a different package for whatever reason, and there is the possibility that I will end up doing additional revisions (AGAIN) so we can bring the latest version of these ideas out with a different title.

Much as I’d love to be done with this book, I’m really pretty open. I’m certainly being challenged to let go and trust right now, neither of which have been particularly easily for me. Fascinating, if painful, process.

In the meantime, I still have copies of the second (“discontinued”) version of the book available and promise to keep site visitors informed of progress on this book. (For updates, which include much of the information in this entry, click here.)

 

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