04 March 2015

{the missing teacher} is an audiobook, too!

When I realized I was writing a book, I knew I was going to have to create an audio as well. I fell in love with audiobooks when I was in college around the time I started driving long distances.

For {the missing teacher} I used a friend's recorder and a free editing program called Audacity. Originally I wanted to upload it to ACX, part of the Amazon empire, but it was rejected due to the extraneous noises such as birds chirping and crickets in the background. These noises are actually in only a handful of chapters, but I didn't want to re-record and deal with another unforseen roadblock.

While I appreciate and understand ACX's need for quality control, I felt what I delivered was clear and sounded above par many popular podcasts, frankly. I didn't have access to a studio nor did I have the pocketbook for such an undertaking. I did this on the cheap, learning as I went and throwing in a lot of time to make it work.

I also read about another author's headache with constantly having to re-upload all of her files/chapters individually and waiting to see if they were accepted. This was not what I wanted to be doing with my time.

In addition, I was not happy about the high prices that ACX charges for its audiobooks. The pricing depends on how long your book is and mine is about 11 and a half hours. It would have been around $25 USD, if not more. I decided to find another way. After all, I self-published my memoir. Surely I could run a little longer to find a home for my audiobook.

I'm glad I did. Gumroad offers exactly what I wanted and I'm fairly certain I haven't even tapped into all that they can offer. I uploaded my chapters, was able to move them around (because I forgot Chapter 23) with no problem. Then I later decided to attach an opening letter to go with the purchase which I did and I'm pleased with Gumroad's flexibility with my own product. Makes sense.

And just as good, I can name my own price. This took some figuring out since I wanted to offer it for free to a few people who expressed interest in the audio version when I made my big annoucement that my book was now available in print and on Kindle. You simply enter "0" zero when it asks you to give and viola, you can have it for free.

Now if folks want to they can donate or purchase it for however much they can afford. It can be a "pay what you feel" product and I really love that. So, right now, I'm offering {the missing teacher} for free or pay what you want.

Also, I have my book on Gumroad as a zip file or as individual files depending on what works best for you.

If you are interested you can sample the audiobook on YouTube and let me know what you think.

Lastly, my book reviews on Amazon. A big thank you to those who took the time to read and write a thoughtful comment.

17 February 2015

Interviewing for a Waldorf teaching position

My first grade classroom.

When I interviewed for my Waldorf teaching position, I desperately wanted to stay in Oregon. And I really, really had my sights on Portland. So, I interviewed with a big strike against me. I knew what I wanted and I was blind to the warnings.

About a month ago, I was contacted by a lovely young woman (who I’ll call Nancy) about how to interview for Waldorf. Her inquiry made me wonder if there was much help out there as it appeared the school she was interviewing for didn’t give her much to go on. Her email also gave me this idea to write about it.

Specifically, Nancy wanted to know what the warning signs were. I think this can be difficult if you are anything like the younger/former me, full of enthusiasm, hope and naiveté. So, the best advice I can give is to ask questions.

The funny thing about interviews is we are usually so anxious to be appealing that we forget that the school (or employer) is also on interview. And while I was proud of my questions like, “What’s this school’s biggest challenge?” I should have slowed down and wrote out a list of what I liked and didn’t like and shopped around much longer.

But let’s get back to those questions because I think it’s worth reading what the critics say. After all, if you are truly going to enter the World of Waldorf, I say take those blinders off and visit argumentative territory. In training, we were not encouraged to do this. In fact, when I brought a list of challenging questions from one of my practicum teachers, most of the answers given were shaky and unsatisfactory.

Questions like: Is Waldorf a cult? One of the parents thinks lighting the candle is cultish and is concerned. How do you deal with faculty parents? How do you deal with bullies? and so on. He gave me quite a long list. Please don’t think that there aren’t Waldorf teachers who are aware of the problems and shortcomings of the educational philosophy.

In the end, since teacher training brushed off the questions, so did I.

Another interesting aspect of individual schools is: how much are they into Anthroposophy? When Nancy was sharing her experiences with a couple of schools, we both got the feeling that one school seemed very Anthroposphic and the other not so much. Now, I can’t tell you which is better or worst. Trembling Trees (where I worked) was confused by Steiner’s visions and beliefs - and it showed.

At the end of the day though, I think it comes down to taking a risk. As with any job, you just won’t know until you try. Of course, Waldorf is unlike any job out there…but that’s another story.

Interviewing for a teaching position help: http://waldorfinspirations.com/index.php/grades/6th-grade/16-how-tos

Job board: http://www.waldorftoday.com/

Critics' concerns: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/concerns.html


Have you ever interviewed for a Waldorf teaching position? What was your experience like?

22 January 2015

the missing teacher is published!

I'm proud to announce that my first book {the missing teacher} is published and available for print through Amazon and as an e-book through Kindle. And for a limited time, I'm offering my audiobook for free (just put in "0") or you can pay what you want. Download here at Gumroad.

To be honest, it's been such a long journey that I'm just relieved that it is finished. I hope, however, that you will find it useful, entertaining and interesting. Thank you to my long-time readers and those who have contacted me over the years. You probably have no idea how much your taking the time to reach out and share your story has helped me to realize that what I have to say matters, too. Much love from Thailand...

24 August 2014

What makes Waldorf education, Waldorf education?

BBC’s Chris Cook asks a good question, “Is Waldorf education worth public money?” I can’t speak for England, but I can say for the US, there is a fair amount of Waldorf charter schools receiving public funding. After all, there is an Alliance for Public Waldorf Education.

I remember asking one of my teacher trainers about a Waldorf charter school that was starting up around the time I was graduating. She said she didn’t consider it to be a “real” Waldorf school since charters cannot teach or bring Anthroposophy into the classroom. Essentially, Waldorf-inspired or charters can only focus on the methods, but not the meaning behind them.

So, what makes Waldorf education, Waldorf education?

Is Waldorf a religious school? If it is then they cannot and should not receive public funding. That would be like having a Catholic-inspired or Catholic charter school. Another way to look at this is, if we talk about, say, Shaolin Kung Fu. If you take away the Buddhist aspect to the discipline, is it still Shaolin Kung Fu? I would wager a lot of kung fu that is practiced today in the US lacks any spiritual training or element, but it still looks like kung fu, more or less.

I think if Waldorf-inspired or Waldorf charter schools are completely devoid of Waldorf trained teachers, then I think we can safely say the religious aspect to these schools are absent. But once you start getting teachers or administrators who have studied Steiner and have been through the training, the influence of Anthroposophy can become a real issue - and in the case of public funding, a conflict of interest.

Even for a teacher who is well-aware of the dated, controversial and eccentric material that Steiner presents, I think it would be hard for that teacher to not carry that knowledge into the classroom because we were trained to do so. We were trained to see the children as choleric or phlegmatic. We talked about fairies and gnomes as very real elemental creatures that influence our world. Karma was a complicated topic with lectures on reincarnation and the effects of past lives.

To the everyday person these subject matters seem loony. And this is why so many parents are concerned about Waldorf, and why many are call it a “cult”. Trained teachers are not told to teach the children Anthroposophy, but it inevitably comes in – otherwise, why would they teach us Steiner’s spiritual science at all?

At the time of training, all of this seemed mind-boggling and rather like you are getting a glimpse into the cosmic profound. Now, I think how impressionable and open-minded I was. I wanted to believe in something, and I found it. This is not a bad thing, but ultimately it became a bad thing – for me. I didn’t fit whatever mold they thought I should be. And that shook the foundation of what I was previously taught, and I’ve never been the same since.

If, however, we took away the occult in Waldorf education, we do have a really compelling education. Back to the basics. Creative. Fun. Light. Imaginative. I think Steiner did give us something wonderful in using stories as the framework to the curriculum.

What do you think? Should Waldorf charter schools receive public funds?