Teaching Isn't All Sunshine and Daisies: So What Is The Truth About Teaching?

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The realities of teaching are not so pleasant, and those who think that the life of a teacher is a nine to three job with three months off during the summer are in for a rude awakening. In "The Truth About Teaching," author Coleen Armstrong (Don't Call My Mother) exposes the harsher realities of teaching and offers a lifetime of classroom wisdom in the process.

Nearly half of all American teachers leave the profession by the end of their fifth year and about a third after only three, according to the National Education Association (NEA). The reason? Not low salaries -- but poor working conditions combined with a lack of administrative support.

So what would happen if those beginners understood ahead of time exactly what they were getting into -- and then were given practical, real-world advice on how to deal with it?

Coleen Armstrong's new book, The Truth About Teaching: What I Wish the Veterans Had Told Me, draws from her 31-year award-winning career to advise new teachers on how to navigate everything from professional politics to classroom discipline to creative lesson planning to getting along with administrators.

"Despite its somewhat inflammatory title," Armstrong explains, "this book is really a love letter to new teachers -- who rarely receive the credit they deserve for taking on the world's noblest, most important, challenging, exhausting yet invigorating and rewarding job."

This book crams a lifetime of problem-solving wisdom into a scant 125 pages, so it's an easy read. But it's also well supported by humorous anecdotes. A classroom heckler, for example, might be invited to step into the hallway -- where Armstrong would wait several moments in silence -- and then without a word, escort the student back inside, where she now had the class's riveted attention. Often, she says, it was like pressing the restart button on a computer.

Her primary aim in publishing the book, she says, is to keep new teachers from feeling isolated and to catapult them toward a smoother, more efficient, more productive professional life -- with fewer painful years of trial-and-error.

"When the bad stuff happens, and it will, don't fall into the trap of believing that you're incompetent or you're being singled out," Armstrong warns. "You're not. We've all walked in your shoes. Even the best teachers have off days. I just don't think anyone else needs to take a decade, as I occasionally did, to figure out better alternatives to some very common problems."

The Truth About Teaching: What I Wish the Veterans Had Told Me is available through Inspiring Teachers Publishing. More information can be found at http://www.inspiringteachers.com/catalog/

Coleen Armstrong taught secondary English, German and Spanish in the Hamilton (Ohio) City School District for 31 years. During that time she won both state and national recognition, awards which included Ashland Oil's Teacher Achievement Award in 1992, WKRC-TV's Outstanding Teacher Award in 1993 and being named one of five finalists for the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1996. In August 1993, she was interviewed on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" with Bob Edwards.

Journalists: for interviews and review copies: 1-877-496-7633

The Truth About Teaching: What I Wish the Veterans Had Told Me by Coleen Armstrong. 5.5 x 8.5, 125 pages.

ISBN 978-1-934120-02-6. $12.95. Publication: Winter 2006.

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