Full disclosure, the title of the book is actually The Unstoppable Writing Teacher – no parentheses, but as I read Colleen Cruz’s book, I couldn’t stop thinking, this book isn’t really just about writing, it’s about teaching. I’d argue there are some chapters that have very little to do with writing, but are all about becoming the best, most effective, passionate, yet productive, teacher you can be. I can’t really remember the last time I loved a professional book (probably Kathy Collin’s Growing Readers – also about so much more than reading), but I relished this book.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be a part of the Heinemann Teacher’s Tour Day and Colleen Cruz was one of the guest author/speakers. Colleen has such an honesty when she speaks and writes, you understand instantly, this is a woman who knows what it truly means to be a teacher. She’s gone into credit card debt to pay for classroom supplies and seen her personal life suffer because of her time and dedication to teaching. Colleen spoke about pop culture (there’s also a chapter in the book about it) and we were riveted.
Spending an afternoon with her book is almost as wonderful as listening to her speak in person. From her opening line, ‘I am a pessimist’ – you will be hooked. This was a professional book I took weeks to read, not because it was dreadfully dry, but simply because I didn’t want to finish it.
To be clear, this is a book about writing (specifically writing workshop), but Colleen writes more about what it means to be an unstoppable teacher, how to keep yourself uplifted, inspired, and persistent – even if you, like she proclaims herself, are a pessimist.
In case you’re still wondering if you need this book (you do), here are a few of the chapter titles:
A Teaching Mindset
‘I can’t seem to get my students to stay writing unless I’m sitting beside them.’
‘I’m not sure how to work with students new to English.’
‘I’m finding some student writing repetitive and boring.’
‘I don’t feel prepared to work with a student with such big challenges.’
‘I never have enough time.’
‘I want kids to write about what they care about, but so much of what they care about feels brainless and superficial to me.’
And finally, the last chapter is titled Five Shockingly Easy Ways to Constantly Outgrow Yourself as a Teacher
of Writing. The ‘of Writing’ isn’t crossed off, I did that, because again, this chapter was really about just continuing to grow and learn as teacher. Colleen’s book is truly a labor of love. Clearly she cares about teachers and the teaching profession and The Unstoppable Writing Teacher is her love letter to us all.