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HOTSEAT: Teacher - Turned Blogger - Turned Author

IMG_1042 Eight years into her teaching career and two years into blogging, Jennifer Scoggin (aka Mrs. Mimi) this week announced that Kaplan was turning her blog, It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, into a book. 

Scheduled to come out this fall, the book expands on Scoggin's classroom blog, which features colorful stories about children and the people who work in schools.

On the HotSeat, Scoggin talks about how she's different from her blog character, how her blog got turned into a book, and what she'll do when people start figuring out what school she's been teaching at. 

Check it all out below, and then go check out the blog, which is generally delightful and bracingly candid about teachers' lives. 

Flowers and sausages?  Mrs. Mimi?  Please explain.

I wish I had a better story for that one.  For now, let’s just say it started as an inside family joke. Remember, I never thought anyone would read the blog...Mimi is my cat.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

How long have you been teaching, and please tell me you’re not one of those TFA or NYC Teaching Fellow people.

I have been teaching for eight years.  I got certified as an undergrad the good old fashioned way. 

How long have you been blogging, and who do your readers seem to be?

It has been just over two years (my official blogoversary was in June...no need to send a gift!).  The majority of my readers are teachers, mostly women, although I love anyone who thinks I'm funny.  

IMG_1042Has your readership changed over the last couple of years?

Over time, I think I have attracted some readers outside of the classroom...like mommy bloggers.  Once I realized that people were actually reading and identifying with the blog, one of my goals became spreading the word about life in the classroom..  

Did the blog get big right away or was there one breakout moment or post that did it?

My readership increased pretty significantly at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.  Ironically, this was also the first time that I received any sort of negative feedback from readers.  

Negative feedback – what was that about? 

I posted about my struggles with a particularly challenging student (who remained anonymous of course) and my honesty upset some non-teachers. Around the same time, I also wrote several posts about the ridiculous parking permit situation that plagued teachers with cars this fall.  

What are some of your other big hits?

If I had to pick one post that got the most comments or attention, it would have to be the post I wrote about my class' trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  People also love my stories about kids. And I've gotten a pretty big response to posts in which Mrs. Mimi says things that should probably stay in her head.  She can be a little mouthy.    

What are some of your favorite blogs to read, education-related or otherwise (besides mine)?

I enjoy Gotham Schools, Bridging Differences, Notes from the School Psychologist and Have a Gneiss Day, a blog by a fellow teacher.  I hate the idea of leaving some teacher bloggers out though - there are quite a few that I check out on a regular basis, but those are the ones that come to mind right away.  Most of them are in my blog side bar.

What about non-education blogs?

I think I might be the last person to discover dooce.com, but I LOVE her!  I also regularly read Jennsylvania, a blogger turned writer and I love her sense of humor.  I have a wee addiction to home design blogs, too, but it's totally under control now.

How did you like the process of taking blog posts and turning them into chapters -- was it hard or easy, fun or boring?

It definitely wasn't boring. I made sure to include some of my best posts, but tried to balance them with new content.  I didn't want to disappoint readers by creating a book that was simply a repeat of the blog. I had room for a lot more back story than I usually do.  At times, though, I did find it challenging to weave everything together coherently - hopefully I was somewhat successful at that.

How much difference is there between you, the teacher, and Mrs. Mimi, the blogger? 

Mrs. Mimi is a much more fabulous, saucy version of myself.  She is not afraid to say what she thinks. She has a foul mouth which obviously needs to stay in check in the classroom.  

Do you think anyone could tell you were Mrs. Mimi if they saw you teaching?

I don't think my students would recognize Mrs. Mimi.  But I have been known to tell my kids, "I totally heart the book we are about to read."  So I guess in that case, if a reader was walking down the hall, spotted my fabulous heels and heard that, they'd know.

Has anyone in real life figured out (yet) that you write the blog? 

As far as I know, the only people who know about the blog are people that I've told myself.  I hope it won't be a problem because I do think it is inevitable that they will find out.  

What’s that going to be like? 

I know it might hurt some feelings, and I am sorry for that.  It was never my intention to write something that was an attack on the place where I work.  Even though I didn't kick and scream the way that Mrs. Mimi does, I'm pretty sure my colleagues already know what I think about them.  I've never been one to hide my feelings.  

So how about telling us which school it was, so that we don’t have to, you know, figure it out ourselves? 

My lips are sealed on that one.  And may I suggest that people who want to dig around and find out, instead spend their time reading my old blog posts or maybe buying the book (insert dazzling smile here). 

What are your thoughts on the school, looking back?

I worked at a good school that worked hard to do good things for children - and this stuff STILL went on. It makes me wonder what is going on in other places.  

Seriously – what school is it?  The tension is killing me.

Oh, friend.  Go take a cold shower – just kidding!

Do you think that having blogged and written a bloggy book about your classroom experiences will hurt you as an academic or professional?

I hope not.  I hope that my love of teaching as well as my dedication to the job have and will shine through.  I worked very hard and experienced a great amount of success in the classroom. I considered that a bloggy book may hurt me in my academic pursuits as well. That is one of the reasons that Mrs. Mimi is clearly distinguished as the author - she is a character that I created, not a complete representation of myself.   I like to think I have more to offer to the world of education than high heel jokes and fantasies of self sharpening pencils.

Speaking of pencils, one of my favorite parts of your blog is how you geek out about school supplies.  Did manufacturers ever send you sharpies or other things?

Fingers crossed, friend, fingers crossed! But no, not yet. 

It's Not All Flowers and Sausages




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"How long have you been teaching, and please tell me you’re not one of those TFA or NYC Teaching Fellow people."
What? I take offense to this. I know some really great teachers who certified through alternative certification. We still have degrees! And we still get certified. The more good people who want to teach, the better.
That was rude.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.