Taylor Sapp is a talented teacher and writer. Read how he used his international teaching experience and love of creative writing as inspiration for his first book. Advice? We all have an interesting and unique story in us because we’re all unique! The key is you just have to find what that is!
1. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Let's start by telling us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
Currently, I have been teaching at ELS Portland (located at Concordia University in NE Portland, Oregon, USA) for the last 5 years. Previously I spent about 8 years in Japan teaching English at several Universities including Meiji and Hosei in Tokyo and Sugiyama Jo Gakuen in Nagoya.
2. Can you describe a typical day?
I wake up very early ~ 5 a.m. and do writing and creative work then. I teach all day and then come home to my family and 2 young boys (2 and 4) who keep me busy in the evening!
3. What do you do in your spare time to relax?
Reading, especially science fiction and I’m a huge film buff. I studied film writing in L.A., California and once/still dream of being a screenwriter!
4. You took on the tremendous task of writing a book called Stories without End while teaching and raising a young family. Where did you get the idea for this book?
It all came about from in the classroom. Teaching international students, some of who have never read a book for pleasure makes getting them into reading a challenge. I found making the reading more interactive made a big difference and that’s where the idea of the book came from!
I studied writing extensively in college, and one of the main takeaways I took is that all forms of writing are essentially communication. I think writing, and especially creative writing, has great power in allowing us to express ourselves, and I wanted to find effective ways to encourage that in students.
5. Can you tell us more about the book?
Stories Without End is a collection of 24 open-ended stories on some creative and unexpected topics. The 15 Short Takes are under 500 words and usually one page long. They tend to be more general and universal in nature. They are also completely open-ended and meant to spark debate and discussion. The 9 Mid–Length Stories are between 500 and 2000 words long and are meant to engage the students on a more literary level, giving them a bit more to sink their teeth into. Each story includes a Before You Read section that preteaches some vocabulary and presents discussion questions. The After You Read discussion questions that help students think more deeply about the plot and themes of the story. Each story is also followed by a series of creative Projects that ask students to engage more personally with the topic of the story. Students will find themselves writing about one particular character, or drawing a scene from the story or connecting the topic to their own lives.
Finally, the 17 Supplements are also included to help students find additional creative outlets with the stories whether through illustration, dramatic creation, or an interview. These supplements can work with any story in the collection to extend the lesson beyond the projects in the Creative Projects section.
6. Where can we purchase your book?
7. How do you promote or market your book?
I have a lot of connections through my education background, and plan on being at ORTESOL this May as well!
8. Did you do everything yourself or did you hire people with specific skills to help you?
While I did my own writing, I have to give great thanks to my publisher at Alphabet Publishing, Walton Burns (http://www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com/. He is an amazing editor and the book wouldn’t be near what it is without his ideas and hard work!
9. Where can we find you on social media?
10. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
I think the most important thing as a teacher is to continue to learn. My experiences trying to understand the ways different students learn were essential qualities for my work. And I find, the most dangerous thing is to be boring, so I’ve (hopefully) learned more and more to develop materials that are interesting!
11. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
I’m not much of a businessperson or salesman, or I’m not great at tooting my own horn, so that’s a bit of a challenge.
12. I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
You will regret the most what you haven’t done. For the last 5 years I said I would try and get a book published but I think I was too nervous to actually push! It’s kind of like a first date! Now I wish I’d been more proactive a lot earlier.
13. Is there anything that you would like to add?
We all have an interesting and unique story in us because we’re all unique! The key is you just have to find what that is! Every teacher I’ve worked with has had their own great ideas (many of them borrowed, thank you). We all like to learn something new, so think about what you can offer!
Thank so much, Taylor!
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more than 50 inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
4. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
5. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
6. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
7. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. Seven of those years were spent in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs and travelling at any time of the year. Contact me at [email protected]
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