Teachers have hand in textbook materials


Taylor Bravo

Many teachers have outside responsibilities such as writing books and textbooks for classroom use.

Jordan Toomey, Staff Reporter

In most students’ minds, teachers have exactly one job – to teach. The truth is, teachers have many other responsibilities and activities that they enjoy; and for several of the teachers on campus, that activity is textbook writing.

“I’ve contributed to the 8th grade US History, World Geography, and the 11th grade US History books,” World Geography and AP European studies teacher Beverly Smith said. “You’ve probably seen those books or used them. I’ve also done editing of textbooks as well, where you go in and you check their historical facts, and you look for grammar errors.”

Writing and editing textbooks is no easy task as a lot of hard work goes into the process.

“Not every textbook publisher is going to get people in there who really know their content, and it can be very evident when you’re looking at those books, so it’s a process, it really is a process,” Smith said. “And [you have to ask yourself] what is it [the students] really have to know, and you have to use that process of elimination going, “okay, what does the state require, what does it say” and then you have to throw in things like charts, graphs, the processing things. You can have readings, primary source things, so it’s a very big picture, global kind of process to when you’re putting it together.”

Teachers generally need to stand out to be asked to contribute to textbook writing.

“If you’ve been in this business long enough and you’ve taught the number of subjects that you’ve taught or you’ve developed some kind of expertise or you’ve presented at conferences or something like that and somebody sees it, then that’s how you get the connection,” Smith said. “And people say, okay, well maybe you should have that person contribute something to this book that you’re writing or contribute something in the way of supplemental materials for teachers as well, lesson plan writing and that kind of thing, and that’s usually how it happens.”

Not all teachers write textbooks, however; some write other kinds of literature.

“I’ve always seen writing as an opportunity to make change,” APUSH teacher Brian Erskine said. “Sometimes it’s just for catharsis, and at other times it is to inform or entertain. I’ve worked on some textbooks and even a political non-fiction book. I’m currently working on a young adult/early college fiction book about a young man who lives through a series of adventures during America’s colonial era.”

A few teachers on campus haven’t yet contributed to textbook writing, but feel that is something they would like to do in the future.

“[I would be interested in contributing to a textbook] if I could find the time,” Pre-Calculus teacher Andrew Stallings said. “I would like to write a textbook over different approaches to teaching trigonometry. I think that trig is taught sometimes in ways that’s difficult for most students to understand, and I’ve developed some ideas that I think if integrated into a resource for students taking trig, that it would help them understand the basic concepts more quickly and realize that it’s not as much of a mystery as many students think.”

Though writing textbooks, or any books, is a hard process, the teachers that do it learn and develop intellectually.

“I encourage everyone to read everything that interests them; that’s how we grow,” Erskine said. “My focus is on doing the best teaching I can do and writing the next chapter of my life’s story.”