A novel and a glossary for teachers

Over 30 years as a teacher, counselor, principal of elementary, middle and high schools, as well as six years as superintendent of schools (a CEO position in the jurisdiction in which I worked) – you can see and hear more than a few oddities and considerable humor in student and staff remarks and action. Throughout this career, many people suggested that a manuscript commenting on the quirks and foibles of the teacher workplace would be an enjoyable read.

“Someone should write this stuff down,” was an oft-repeated phrase of teachers and principals. “No one would believe it,” was the usual response.

So one day, when a teacher issued a seemingly offhand remark that, “No one will ever believe this stuff - someone should write it down,” the impetus for a two-pronged “literary” approach was launched. The result was the novel Hepting’s Road: A Novel of Teaching and a humor compilation, Edubabble: A Glossary of Teacher Talk. Though they are quite dissimilar, not the least difference being that the former is a novel and the latter a brief compilation of education-oriented humor, they share a common thread – that teachers, for all their perceived shared personality traits and the oddity of a workplace filled with children and adolescents, provide a valuable (if not valued), service to society. In many ways teaching is one of the most widely known and yet least understood professions.

Educators share a common organizational culture, created not only by the realities of their workplace, but by the thoughts and statements of non-teachers, both powerful and proletarian who are rarely shy about voicing opinion. This shared culture and language is found at all levels; elementary, middle and high school; in buildings large and small; in settings rural, suburban, and urban core. The enrolment area may be affluent or economically challenged; the teachers well paid (good luck with that one), or struggling with meager paychecks.

In Hepting’s Road: A Novel of Teaching, thirty something Steve Hepting is attempting to adjust to life in the classroom after a roller coaster ride as a stock broker during the dot-com stock market boom and bust at the turn of the millennium. From teaching disadvantaged, jaded teens to affluent elementary school children, and working with principals ranging from a supportive humanist to a data-nut despot, Hepting’s second year in teaching is far from boring. Set in 2004, the timeless numbness of the education bureaucracy, the comedic antics of students in the classroom, and the idiosyncratic tendencies of teacher and support staff colleagues ring as true today as they did then. The life of a schools comes alive with zest, pathos and humor. Given the tortuous career road he has chosen, can Steve ever return to the much more sedate stock broker occupation he once enjoyed?

Edubabble: A Glossary of Teacher Talk offers close to 400 entries of humor and satire regarding the work-life of a teacher, including the verbiage and antics of children or teens, the non-sensical decisions of those in the education bureaucracy (including those of the author), and the fatuous comments that emanate from education professors or politicians trumpeting the need for change in public education. From Latin to Robotics, Politicians to Principals, and Hot Dogs to Nourishment; from Football to Dances and Psychobabble to Counselors, the jargon that makes teaching such a special profession, and the shenanigans that make school such a unique workplace, are highlighted with a dose of wit and a tinge of farce.

About the Author
Clyde Woolman has been a teacher and counselor, a principal of an elementary, a middle and three high schools, and completed a six-year stint as a Superintendent (CEO) of a school district before reengaged neurons led him to voluntarily announce a return to a school. At one time or another he has been involved in education from Kindergarten through to the university level. He has delivered keynote speeches at conferences, sat on panels, presented workshops and seminars and led teacher and principal teams in writing reports on schools. At one time he could fling edubabble around as well as most. He often tried, occasionally with success, to see the humor that lay behind and beyond the peculiarities and foibles that can abound when a place called school is your workplace.

Clyde is the author of several articles on education leadership and two young adult adventure novels (2010 and 2013) emphasizing themes of tolerance, trust and friendship.  Smugglers at the Lighthouse and Yurek: Edge of Extinction were published by Moosehide Books of Ontario.