Surviving Open House

Have I mentioned that I published a book with my class this year?  Oh, only 100 times?  I published a book with my class.  There.  101.

Here it is.  I love the way it turned out.  (I can say that because my kids wrote all the words and one of my all time favorite parents snapped the photos.)

Have I also mentioned that my body shuts down when I have to speak to groups of people?  In my head I know everything’s fine, that I am actually NOT going to die, but my body FREAKS OUT!!!  Sweat pours out of my armpits, knee pits, shins, neck, and head.  As my head lets the floodwaters loose, my curly hair which I have painstakingly straightened, kinks up into a tangled bird’s nest of curls.  Then my voice starts to tremble and my hands shake.  Which makes me sweat more.  Which makes me shake even more.  Which makes me sweat more.  You get the picture.  It’s horrifying.

So things like Back to School Night and Open House are nightmarish.  A full room of parents expecting me to be knowledgeable, poised and sure of myself.  Fat chance.  The sure of myself thing I’ve got down pat.  Wait, never mind.  It’s the full of myself thing I’ve got down.

Anyway, those nights have always put my nerves on red alert.  Until last night.

I have stumbled upon the secret to surviving Open House.  No wait, I stumbled on the secret to making Open House fun.  Open House and fun?  Surely those words can’t exist in the same sentence.  Hell has obviously frozen over.

Come close, I’ll let you in on the secret.

Our books arrived a week ago and all week long we’ve been giving copies to important adults.  We presented one to our foster grandma.  She cried when we gave it to her and has spent every afternoon showing it off at her senior citizens home.  We gave one to our librarian who promptly put it on display.  Our principal came down and we presented him with a copy.  He talked with us about the power of words and later that day I noticed his copy in the hands of a few higher ups.

My kids were dying to take home their very own copy, but I made them wait.  I made them wait all week, which is like 10 years in 6-year-old time.

Yesterday as they cleaned out their desks and made our room ready for company, I handed them each a copy of their book.  They put it on display with their other work.  Some kids had a few extra minutes before school let out.  Know what they wanted to do?  They wanted to sit and read their book.  Let me tell you, my heart just about burst watching pockets of kids read their book, a book they’d penned with their own hands.

At 6:00 sharp, I opened the door and a flood of students and parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents rushed in.  It was great to have so many people, but I was a little confused.  Usually the extended family doesn’t make an appearance until our Spring musical.

Then it hit me, they were there because of the book.

As soon as I opened the door, kids tugged their parents by the hands over to their desks.  They bounced and squealed as they showed their parents the page they’d written.   Mothers cried.  Grandmothers bought extra copies.  Parents flocked to our photographer and thanked her for capturing such beautiful shots of their children.  Dads shook my hand and mothers embraced me.

The room buzzed with excitement the entire hour.  I walked around taking photos of the whole thing.  Even with hundreds of people packed into my little classroom, I didn’t sweat a drop.  My armpits were remarkably dry.  My hair didn’t kink even the slightest bit.

It was a beautiful night, a night when proud authors released their book to a roomful of adoring fans.  It was a launch party, first grade style, which was so much better, and so much less sweaty, than the dreaded Open House.

11 thoughts on “Surviving Open House

  1. This passed the awesomeness test with flying colors! I got goosebumps reading this. You are such an amazing teacher – I can tell just by reading how much you love your students and what you do. One of my sons had a teacher like you, but the other one wasn’t nearly as fortunate. Your students are blessed to have such a wonderful teacher!

    Totally unrelated – I have a new blog that’s just mine (it’s the new link). I was writing about riding and school too much for it to be on a combined blog anymore! The name is sort of inspired by yours, although not as eloquent 🙂 This is where I will write about our bike adventure “together”!


    1. stuckinmypedals

      Thanks, Heidi. I love my students very much and publishing a book with them was all kinds of fun.

      I like the new blog. Funny thing is as you were commenting over here on the similarity of our blog names, I was over at your new place commenting on just how much I like the similarity. Weird long lost twin moment. I’m starting to think that wearing matching jerseys on the same day might cause some sort of Freaky Friday crack in the universe!


    1. stuckinmypedals

      Thanks, Lynn. Actually I took a year off of publishing with kids last year because at the time I would have been doing it, I was spending time with my grandmother. I was sad not to publish with last year’s class, but I’ll always be glad I decided to be with her instead. I’m pretty sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

      Having said that, I think I’m going to do my best to publish every year because it made Open House so awesome!


  2. dkzody

    I am just coming to this blog and specifically your post about publishing a book. This is a wonderful thing to do, says the former yearbook teacher!. I have a few questions:
    what company did you use to publish the books? how did you pay for the books?


    1. stuckinmypedals

      Hi, dkzody,
      So glad you stopped by. I think we have a mutual friend, no? Anyway, about publishing a book with my class, I used The books we ordered cost about $6 each plus S & H, which is a great deal because it’s a pretty high quality book. We have a spring jog-a-thon and before the jog-a-thon we start writing our book and then the money we earn pays for our books. We had enough money this year to buy books for other important adults, too, like our principal, our librarian, our foster grandmother, etc. I like lulu because it’s pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it and parents who want additional copies can order them on the website. Plus if you sign up to receive their e-mails, they send you coupons. I used a 20% off coupon and saved quite a bit. I’ve published twice now with students and both times have loved the result and the looks on their faces when they realize they’re written a “real” book. 🙂


      1. dkzody

        Thanks for filling me in on how you do it for a whole class. That’s good that you can raise the money to pay for each child to have one. Kids love that sort of project. I have made two books similar to this for my granddaughter so I know they take a lot of work, and I can only imagine how that would be when working with small children.

        And yes, we have a friend in common–Lynn Jacobs. I think that’s how I found your blog.


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