Teacher/Author Lifestyle

Each year the Manitoba Association of Teachers of English (MATE) selects a teacher candidate (one who is in the final year of their certification program) who shows potential as a teacher who will also continue to be an author, as they teach. This tradition began during 2004-2005 when I was President of MATE and Sheldon Oberman, the embodiment of teacher/author, had passed away suddenly. In his honour we established this prize.

A teacher/author may appear to be a difficult lifestyle choice since there are demands on teachers beyond school hours and demands on authors beyond writing their books. If you choose this lifestyle, you do not have to look hard to find shining examples of those who are successful teacher/authors. I have been offered suggestions by several teacher/authors on how to balance one's life in making this lifestyle choice:

1. Teach part time/write part time and it will all add up to a full-time lifestyle. The un-named source of this comment says that the money may not be great until you have earned writing success, but your satisfaction level will likely be much higher than if you had to choose only one.
2. Be a model teacher. Ignore the notion of George Bernard Shaw, "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." and realize the fresh advice you have for your ELA students who themselves may be budding authors. It is difficult to provide this author-type advice if you have not participated in the publishing game.
3. Decide on distribution. I derive this advice from my own past experience in the music industry. Early on before I began to teach, I played piano at the Holiday Inn. One day, I was offered a contract to go on the road.  I had to decide if I wanted to go on the road and live out of a suitcase or if I wanted to sing locally. My decision was to stay here and enjoy music where I lived. Translating that to writing? Yes, you can decide to write for newsletters and other local venues of writing distribution. It might be nice to think you will become a writer as popular as J.K. Rowling or Steven King but if you really love writing, and I hope you do, then it is a great decision to just enjoy writing and not worry about the fame and headaches that might come with that. Writers clubs will support your writing ambitions at the local level. Another way to enjoy writing may be to start your own blog. Find your own preferred level of enjoyment by experimentation with the teacher/author lifestyle.