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On Wednesday I’ll share the first chapter of my memoir Magical Teaching: Nuanced Conversations About Big Ideas, Witty Banter in the Hallways, and Other Fantasies of a Rookie Teacher. Details below.

Mr. Smith is not your average teacher. He smokes cigarettes confiscated from students, serves fresh tea to a perpetually tardy boy, and when a young woman catches him wearing pajamas and reading “Rolling Stone” in Target, that becomes the topic for class discussion the next day.

Welcome to Derek Smith’s journal of his first year teaching English at a public high school. With relentless momentum and self-effacing honesty, Magical Teaching: Nuanced Conversations About Big Ideas, Witty Banter in the Hallways, and Other Fantasies of a Rookie Teacher tells a hilarious and touching tale that romps though the education of one young man and 120 first-years in a run-down portable on the edge of campus. Smith, whose life is as fragmented and frantic as his students, skips and trips through a year in which he confronts sly-eyed rats, leaky ceiling tiles, misbehaving students, negative colleagues, and one outlandish principal – predictable obstacles for a first-year teacher, he knows.

Chronicling both the sweep of American education and small successes of life and learning, Magical Teaching puts breath and bones on one of our nearly universal experiences: high school. LouAnne Johnson, bestselling author of “Dangerous Minds,” writes that Smith “has the soul of a poet and the wit of a stand-up comic.” Bret Lott, bestselling author of “Jewel,” calls Magical Teaching “a sharp and funny and brutally honest book that has at its core a kind of shape-shifting elegance—it is at once a terror-ride through that first year of teaching and a nuanced homage… the result is a beautiful and funny story.”

Recent second-order changes to the manuscript include a heightened focus on narrative momentum and a reduction in length from 76,000 words to 49,000 words. A more formal proposal – including information about primary and secondary markets, chapter summaries, competitive works, and endorsements – is available.

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  1. November 10, 2014

    Great “cover description.” May it see print soon!

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