Teaching is Hard. Follow the Path to Serendipity
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
Teaching is hard, and so is life. In this very helpful guide Allyson Apsey gives us the keys to travel the path to a life of serendipity, “a path of joyful rebellion” (p. xvii). Throughout this guide Apsey uses the 7 truths of life to show us how to be better and happier humans, parents, teachers and administrators.
She reminds us that all behavior is driven by our 5 basic needs, and that we can’t ever really walk in someone else’s shoes, but realizing that their behavior and choices (and ours) are the result of their perceptions and needs allows us to better understand them, and ourselves.
Aspey notes that life stinks sometimes, but that if we follow the path to serendipity, we can use the “boulders” in our path to find and value the gifts that the boulders provide in our lives (p. xxi).
Aspey begins our 13 steps along the path with C.R.A.F.T., a need satisfying classroom, where she helps us understand students’ needs and how we can help them to meet their own needs if we provide the proper environment.
Throughout the book she refers to “Choice Theory” by William Glasser to help us understand our choices and to make better ones every day by understanding that we are the only ones who can control our behavior, or how we respond to things and others (including hostility).
She gives us serendipitous steps to follow as we encounter some of the most common situations educators face. At the end of each chapter Aspey provides a very succinct, bulleted list of take-aways and next moves, called Serendipitous Lessons, which make it easy to go back to the key points on our map and check our navigation as we journey through life.
The book is written in a light-hearted, upbeat style that makes it easy to approach this very deep content, and her humor – especially with her “commercial interruptions” and humorous interspersions that describe a fictitious tool – helps us to achieve the needed mind shifts to be able to take the steps on our path to serendipity, . . .”for just $9.99….”
She speaks directly to us when she says that “beautiful people don’t just happen; they are created” (p. 63); beautiful people are the ones who have lived through life’s hard times, have suffered defeat and loss, and have made the path to serendipity their choice.
Aspey then finishes the book by reminding us that perfection does not exist and that we are ALL still works in progress. We have not gotten there yet. Our journey continues along this path of serendipity, but that “we need to be the change we want to see in the world . . . that we need to make the positives so loud they drown out the negatives”(p. 95) and that if we choose in ways that would make “our porch-rocking elderly self proud”(p. 95) and live with an attitude of gratitude for our life, that our journey will be much happier.
This is a definite must-read for every educator, and even lots of non-educators.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is currently a Middle School Gifted Math and Science teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees in her school district, works closely with the local university, and writes curriculum. She is also a professional development consultant, and previously served as an Exceptional Student Education Specialist and as a mentor.