Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meet the authors!

Here at Kappa Delta Pi we are celebrating the release of our new book, The ABC's of Wellness for Teachers. It's a timely and important topic for educators at all levels and in all stages of their careers. We recently interviewed authors Teena Ruark Gorrow and Susan Muller so that we could share with you their vision and hope for the book. National Teacher Appreciation Week is coming soon (May 4-9, 2009); consider getting a copy of the book for a teacher you know and love!

KDP: You are both very successful in your respective fields. What was it that sparked your desire to write a book?
    Gorrow: Because teachers are tremendously busy people with lives and families outside of school, and because teaching is such a time-consuming profession, staying in balance poses a serious challenge. Teacher retention data shows that a surprising percentage of teachers exit the profession even before earning tenure status. In fact, an alarming percentage of beginning teachers do not even finish their first year. We believe that there is a direct link between teacher wellness and teacher retention. Although our literature search revealed articles on wellness and a wealth of fitness information, we could not identify a single resource to address all six dimensions of wellness with teachers in mind.
KDP: What was your favorite part of the book-writing process? Was there anything you learned that really surprised you? What was the most challenging aspect of developing this guide?
    Gorrow: I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work closely with awesome colleagues--coauthor Susan Muller and KDP Editor Karen Allen--and I felt inspired by imagining the ways in which teachers might one day apply our ideas to positively influence their lives. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this project for me was the amount of time required to complete all of the steps from developing a proposal, to creating the initial draft for review, to revising the final proof, to layout. Friends might say that Susan and I have Type-A personalities, so waiting for anything is a challenge for us. Yet, this project actually helped both of us develop patience and we concluded that staying in balance really is critical to living a happy life.

    Muller: I was most pleased with the time I spent working with Teena. We worked very well together generating ideas and figuring out ways to express and present these concepts within the confines of the ABC structure for the book. The process involved compiling and writing information on each of the wellness topics, then reworking each area in a manner that would apply directly to teachers. As we progressed and the book began to take shape it seemed to come together very nicely despite those moments when connecting the various concepts posed a challenge. We were able to resolve the issue of connecting the ABCs by reviewing the dimensions of wellness, refocusing on the idea of balance, then creating the surveys and mobiles in an attempt to pull it all together.
KDP: Who do you hope to reach with this publication?
    Gorrow and Muller: We hope that the contents of this book will be of interest to
    • Teacher interns
    • Preservice teachers
    • Beginning teachers
    • Veteran teachers
    • School administrators
    • College professors in the teacher education field, instructing classroom management courses and other methods courses

    KDP: The ABC’s of Wellness specifically discusses the importance of teachers and educators leading a healthy lifestyle. Why is it important for teachers to monitor their health and make sure they are living a balanced life?

      Muller: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital for everyone regardless of their profession. We each have distinct personalities and areas of interest. These interests and personality characteristics often drive our behaviors, including our health behaviors. For most people it does not come naturally to attend equally to each of the dimensions of wellness. It is far more common to focus on the two or three areas that bring us the most immediate satisfaction. This tendency to focus on some areas and neglect other areas leads to imbalance. Sooner or later the inattention to specific dimensions of wellness comes back to haunt us. We develop signs and symptoms of poor levels of well-being (e.g. overweight, insomnia, depression, loneliness, anxiety over poor job performance). The chances of becoming imbalanced is high for teachers as evidenced by the many who report feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed by a variety of responsibilities, and eventually leave the profession in search of an occupation that will provide better opportunities for happiness and contentment. This book is designed to help teachers achieve and maintain high levels of well-being despite the many demands associated with being an educator. Maintaining high levels of wellness might ultimately improve their odds of remaining in the teaching profession as active, engaged, life-long learners.

    KDP: As seasoned experts in the education field, what general advice would you give to new teachers just starting out?

      Muller: It is the little things in life that add up to the sum of a person. Therefore, I would advise all teachers to get up every day and give life your best effort. If you take time to do things the right way, with good intentions for others, you will find that the journey becomes much more enjoyable. Once you make your classroom a warm, welcoming environment, you will be rewarded by students who will reciprocate and make your day-to-day interactions much more meaningful. Being a teacher is not limited to imparting your knowledge of the subject matter, but extends to sharing your life with your students and colleagues. Keeping each aspect of your life in balance is essential to overall well-being and to career satisfaction and success.

      Gorrow: I agree with Susan's comments. Also, remember why you wanted to become a teacher and keep your passion alive. Decide now that your attitude is a choice that affects you and others around you. When you are disappointed or tired, avoid the temptation to complain, gossip, or criticize. Instead, look for the good in yourself, your students, and your colleagues. Keep in mind that your wellness is a series of decisions, so strive to balance your personal needs and work responsibilities.

    Teena Ruark Gorrow, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Salisbury University in Maryland, is a former public school teacher, principal, and central office administrator.

    Susan Marie Muller, Professor of Exercise Science at Salisbury University, is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Health-Fitness Instructor through the American College of Sports Medicine.

    Thank you, Teena and Susan, for writing a great book and taking the time to do this interview! To find out more about The ABC's of Wellness for Teachers, please visit

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