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What's it about?

When people hear I wrote a book, usually their first question is "What is it about?" This should be a pretty straight forward question. In today's marketing and social media world publishers launch books with a brand and a clear message. I should have a quick phrase to respond to this question. But I don't. Part of the reason this story came to me and I wrote this book is that I don't see the world in small pieces or soundbytes. I see things in big pictures. I struggle with the details. In fact, that's what made this book so hard to publish. The story was mostly written in 3 days and pretty complete in about 3 months. It's taken me another 5 years to sift through the details.

I guess you could say I'm a forest through the trees type of person. So in a forest you have lots of different components; trees of various types, insects, ground cover, underbrush, animals and more. But this does not really capture a forest. A forest has that cool, wet feel in the morning. The sun peaks through the leaves and sparkles and tints. Crackles and chirps play a symphony of music. Often wind rustles lightly or in storms the trees brace against the winds and provide a sense of strength and calm. A forest is more than trees.That's what my book is about. It's about being more. It's not about one thing but a whole lot of things. It's about a whole lot of pieces coming together so that we can be more for each other and especially for the children we teach.

Way back in 2016 I was excited to start a new position in my school district as a gifted coordinator. It was a role I had hoped for and I was excited to lead. But just as I was adding the final piece to what seemed a perfect puzzle, life came and swept the whole thing off the table. Before long my already busy, rollercoaster life was turned upside down and sideways. Personal and professional challenges hit me from all directions. Right in the midst of all this, four boys came into my life. By every rule I was not supposed to be their teacher, but when God has plans things often move in an unexpected direction. My interactions with the four boys were challenging, but over time I began to see things in them you can only see if you are a forest through the trees kind of person. I saw the way they walked in the hallway as leadership. I saw their hallway tussles as fear. I saw their energy as something to be channeled in a more positive direction. Along the way, these four boys touched my heart and showed me I could be a better teacher. I could be more. Because of 4, I began to challenge the status quo and give more than what was expected. In return, I became more than I ever expected.

After an emotional good-bye, as I embarked on a new adventure in my life, I sat down and wrote down as much of the story as I could remember while the movers packed up my belongings. Sometimes I laughed and sometimes I cried, but I kept writing. Then in my new home I began to learn what it takes to be a writer. I read more, tried new disciplines, met new people. All these new experiences gave me an insight and window into my own story. I poured my life experiences as a teacher, parent and coach onto the pages. I began to play with my thoughts. Then I thought about the activities and actions I took to change myself or the students I taught. I called these things practice. But it still wasn't a complete picture. I contemplated "why." What was the purpose? What was I supposed to learn from this experience? What could others learn? Before long I had a theory of learning focused on play, practice and purpose. I used these as a step-by-step guide to share what I had learned Because of 4.

So you might be thinking, ok - this is a story about teaching. So it's a book for teachers. I guess it's just for teachers if you only want to look at the trees. I really tried to make it just for teachers.. It'd be much easier to market it that way. But it's not just for teachers. Teachers aren't the only ones who teach. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it's that we all play some role in the lives of children. Parents across the country were suddenly faced with the enormous challenge of being a teacher. And you know what? This book is for them. It's so they can be more and expect more from their schools. Not necessarily expect them to do more. Schools are already busy covering every society ill. But the challenge is for us to work together as schools, parents and communities to be better, to be more. And what about those people who work on the ball field, court or ice. Every time a coach walks on a playing field, that coach is a teacher. That coach probably has more influence on a child than most classroom teachers and parents. This book is for coaches too. This book is for the people who want to show up with their best selves every day and make those around them better too.

Oh - so it's a self-help kind've book. It's one of those that tells you if you do this one right thing all will be right with the world. You will be blissfully happy and apply a perfect formula to teaching just right. NOPE! It's not that either. I share some of my favorite stuff and what worked for me and why I think it worked, but the steps to being more are really up to you. I don't have your life figured out. I sometimes don't even have my life figured out. I do know that for one moment in time, something worked. I know that because of 4 I have some idea of what it takes to be more. Hopefully, the steps I share will inspire you too!

So seriously, what is this book about? Ok. I'll do my best. It's my story of how working with four boys showed me how to be more for myself and to believe in possibility. If you're a teacher, parent (grandparent) or coach, I think you will find something in it for your too. Because of 4 taught me to be more! I wrote this story for me AND YOU!

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