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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

Special Guest Childrens’ Book Author Shannon Olsen

Deedee and Adam sit down to chat with Shannon Olsen, second grade teacher turned best selling children’s book author!

Shannon is the author behind the children’s books:

Join us as we discuss her inspiration for her books and how she took her first book from idea to publication!

Find more about Shannon and book an author visit on her teaching blog:

Special Guest Shannon Olsen


Your backgound looks fantastic!

Are you speaking about mine where I haven’t finished painting my trim?

Is that what you’re talking about, you know?


You know, Adam, we’ll just edit that out.

It’ll be fine.

Oh well, I used to do my very first author visits.

I put my laptop on an ironing board and then the background was my daughter’s bookcase in her bedroom.

That was a distant learning, too.

That’s awesome.

Oh my gosh.

Oh my gosh.

I’m either here or we have a super nice like white fireplace upstairs that I’ll chill in front of.

But I don’t know.

This screams teacher to me.

So that’s why I sit here it.


All right, well, welcome to the show, everyone.

Dee Dee and Adam we are.

That was a weird intro.

Dee, Dee, Adam, we are back.

We’re back.

I mean this is three in a row, so I think we should.

Remember in 2024, but our first guest of 2024?

Love it.

Love it.

Excited to welcome teacher, author, inspire inspirer.

Is that a word inspirer?

I like of.


Dose of inspiration?

Misses Shannon Olson.

Welcome to the show.

Oh my goodness, thank you so much for having me and welcoming me here.

I’ve had so much fun with both of you already.

Oh my gosh.

Well, we, we are so excited to have you.

I’ve had your books for a while now, so that’s really exciting for me to have you here.

And we actually get to meet and talk and get to know each other.

So I’m super honored.

It’s awesome to put a face with a with the author.

Like a face with the name of an author, right?


So can you tell everybody the names of the books that you have published and kind of maybe just a little bit about yourself?

Sure, of course.

So my book’s probably the one people know that most teachers know it well, actually.

Can I start that again?

That did not come out well.

You know what?

We’ll just edit all that out.


Where you just say the one that you all should know it.

Unless you’ve been under a rock.

We we edit, we edit a lot.

No, thank you for asking.

My books are our Classes of Family, which is geared toward building class, community.

Oh, I love how she’s showing it there.

She’s got the visuals going.

And then there’s two books called A Letter from Your Teacher.

There’s one for the first day of school for.

I love how I see the book going across the screen like I’m fanning it in the front.

I’m trying.

To be Vanna White.

She’s doing the Vanna White, exactly.

Vanna wills over there.

Yeah, candle wheels.

Oh, there you go.


So a letter from your teacher on the first day of school which is, you know, welcoming students during back to school time, all about that teacher student connection.

And then there’s one for the last day of school which kind of brings it all together, ties it full circle at the end of the year.

And then most recently last year came out with our school is a family which builds upon our classes of family to the wider the school community.

And then very exciting, I just announced that releasing a brand new book this year which is called Collaboration Station and this new one I’m super excited about.

It’s all about collaborative learning in the classroom.

So students working together as one big group working together and partners in small groups.

I just remember thinking, you know, in the classroom whenever introducing all of our routines and procedures for working in groups, I would have loved to have a picture book that I could read aloud to my students just to get them in the right mindset, you know, kind of address those different challenges that can come up when kids work together.

I mean, as we all know, it can be even a challenge for adults to work together so we understand the challenges.

So yes, you know and actually, you know, all of my books, they really are just inspired by my own experience in the classroom.

They’re books that I have wanted to read to my students.

Yes, I love that.

I love that.

This was 2020 when you put out our class as a family, right?


So The funny thing is that I actually wrote it prior to the pandemic, but then kind of got the ball rolling more and then you know, world got kind of flipped upside its head.

But it just so happened that it was during that time, and I think it kind of just took on a different meaning during that time where teachers, students for wanting to stay connected, you know, feeling like a class family.

So I didn’t write it with the pandemic in mind, but I’m glad that it was helpful for a lot of classrooms during that time, including my own.

I’m just amazed at like you’ve had this success and these four books in in three, three years.

I mean let’s let’s, I mean give or take months, but that’s amazing.

That’s awesome.

It’s got to feel.

I mean, you just got to feel amazing as a as a person, as a teacher, as an author.

Someone that just did this with an idea of reading a book to her class, right?

Oh well, thank you so much.

I mean, I I feel like it is, you know, it is a lot of work, I’m not going to lie, but to me it’s fun work that feels like an oxymoron, I guess.

But yeah, I yeah, I truly, truly enjoy it.

I mean, in a lot of ways, it doesn’t even feel like work to me because it’s something I’m super passionate about.

I I feel like I’ve kind of found, you know, this is what I truly enjoy doing.

I I love that I’m able to, in my own way, you know, kind of make a positive contribution to teachers and classrooms beyond my own little bubble, if that makes sense.

No, I love that.

I love that and I love that like what you said that you, you know, classroom teacher, you wrote about what you needed, which I think is is kind of the key to success to, you know, teacher authors, regardless if they are writing a picture book or they’re creating curriculum or if they’re just a teacher looking for what their classroom needs, right.

It’s, it’s being really tuned into the needs of the classroom.

But I love.

That was the inspiration for your books.

I have.

Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt.

Oh no, go ahead.

I was just going to say fine.

By the way.

No, it’s OK.

I just, I felt like I wanted to cut in just because that really resonated with me.

You know what all kind of started that way?

I would just make things that I needed for my own classroom.

I would share them, you know, with my grade level team.

And then someone just kind of made an offhanded comment one day.

You know, she probably didn’t think too much of it, but it changed my life, You know, she said, you know, these would be really helpful for other teachers too, in other classrooms, you know, And we all used TPT.

And, you know, I didn’t really get started right away, but that comment just kind of stuck with me.

And then I when I did, you know, so you know, let me try this out.

If nothing comes of it, that’s OK.

If anything, this These are things that are useful in my own classroom.

And so I did start out, you know, just making resources for TPT and then, you know, sharing teaching ideas on Instagram through blogging.

And then when the ideas for the books came along, it actually kind of felt like it all kind of coincided together.

I look at picture books as another resource that can be used in the classroom.

You know, I love that and I love what you, you know, you said is you know what?

What is it that I need that’s not here?

And I think that that’s really the key to success for, you know, authors.

You know, nobody wants to read another book that’s exactly like the kissing hand.

I’m not a big kissing hand hand anyhow.

Just I’m just going to like did.

Full displays.

Wow, we threw.

That out there didn’t.

We, I know this is like therapy this.

I’m like, I can’t believe they didn’t kick me out of kindergarten sooner.

But you know, he needs another book like that.

They need the books that aren’t there.

And so I think that that’s why these books really resonate with teachers and why they you know kind of answer the call.

So congratulations on on finding your your groove.

I don’t know if that’s the right I know well.

You definitely have.

I mean we, I, I DDI kind of mentioned to you last week when we were talking about bringing Shannon on that Shannon and I had an opportunity to chat through another mutual contact through we are teachers.

So I’m sure you all have heard of the the website the Facebook group we are teachers and we got to chat a lot about what it means to be a a teacher author and just to hear.

I mean you could have easily turned that and it’s a great interview I cannot wait for for it to come out but you could have easily turned that into a here’s what to do, what not to do and like very like I I guess teacher Y in that sense but you made it so fun and you can truly tell that this like you said this is a passion.

It’s not I I think that’s teaching in general right we we all I know both of you were probably like me.

I never once said, Oh my gosh, I got to go to work today.

It was.

I got to go to school today.


Like because that that yeah, I get to do this right.

I get to get paid to go do this right.

And so so to hear it in your voice is you can you can feel that it’s real.

And and I just love it.

I love hearing that passion from people when they find their what it is they’re supposed to be doing, you know?

So I imagine there’s a lot of people who are listening right now going OK, like, I love this.

I’ve had an idea for a book I I have AI have a a hole that needs to be filled within my classroom library.

Do you have any suggestions or maybe share with people the process of, you know, storyboarding?

How did you find your illustrator?

How did you approach publishing?

Give us the juice.


No, absolutely.

And I spoke a little with Adam about this.

I wish there were one magic pathway to get where you want to go as far as publishing a book.

It’s a blessing and a curse that there are so many different avenues of how, how to get there, whatever your goals might be with publishing a book.

When I first got the idea for our class as a family, you know, I I hadn’t really done any research.

I was like, you know what, let me just get it out on paper.

That’s the start, right?

Just the thing.

And then you know, I thought, now what Now what do I do?

Google can be like a rabbit hole trying and you know, redoing all your research, wedding out things that are useful, not useful.

What I first did was, you know, I had actually connected with a few authors through my teacher Instagram page who I had shared their books before.

You know, just I thought, oh, this is a book.

I use my classroom, right?

Share it.

So I had made those contexts and I thought, you know what, instead of me trying to go through and figure all of this out of my own, maybe someone might be able to at least point me in the right direction.

So I asked a friend who I had made and I, you know, same thing.

I asked her how did you do this?

And you know, she didn’t give me the full, I really didn’t know at that point what I was getting myself into.

But the the best piece of advice where I just needed a starting point and she said, well, if it’s a picture book, you need to find your illustrator.

So for me, I’m like, OK, that’s something actionable that I can figure out.

So I wish I could tell you, oh, there’s, you know, this magical way that you can find an illustrator.

There’s not one right way to go about it.

Want to know my big secret?

I’m curious because we didn’t talk about this.

I went online, I looked up illustrators on websites, I found their websites and I sent them a message.

OK, I was curious because I know he and I have another mutual friend, Katie Mensie, who actually she pub self published a book last year, two years ago.

I think it was a couple years ago.

She’s a another fellow Illinois teacher like myself and she found her illustrator on Fiverr.

Like she just searched for a name and it was like this.

She liked this lady’s work.

It was, I can’t even remember where she was from.

It was some other country.

And I OK, yeah, I was going to say that and she’s like, let’s let’s do it and send her the drawing.

And it’s it’s a beautiful book.

So I was curious because we didn’t talk about that last week.

I was wondering if it was something like Fiver or not.

Yeah, some people, you know, might have a contact.

There’s various illustrator websites or like you said, places where you can outsource things like illustrating.

I think the best thing.

Honestly, most people, not everyone, but I think a lot of people, when you write a book and you have an idea, you kind of have a vision of the style that you picture for the illustration.

So I was kind of going on different websites and looking at, I like this style, this style.

I kind of started to see, you know, like a commonality between them.

I love it.

I love how this looks.


And then, you know, I think you also have to be ready just to accept you’re not going to hear back from everyone.

You’re going to get nose from some people, but you know, one of the people that I had reached out to was Sandy Sonkey.

I love the fact that she lived in California as well.

I had these visions of us meeting up at a coffee shop, books.

I’ve actually never, you know, few years now we’ve collaborated on books.

I have never met her in person.

So we’ve done all of our correspondence, mostly through e-mail.

She didn’t even hop on a call like this for the longest time.

You know, just both super busy.

But I feel like from the get go, she just gets me.

I can send her a sketch, I can share an idea with her, and then she works her magic.

I go back, I give her my, you know, my notes or revisions on things.

She comes back with something better.

So I feel like if you can find someone you truly work well with, you have to hang on to them.

So are you?

Are you?

Do you’re you’re a drawer yourself, he said.

I send her a sketch.

Are you like doodle and ideas down and then you send them off to her?

Or is it all word typed out?

She gets your vision from your text.

So for the most part, Sandy does the sketches.

I do typically send her an outline with ideas.

Like a lot of times it just depends for certain parts of the manuscript I saw.

This is what I’m picturing.

I have an idea for this, but I always tell her please feel free to take creative Libard Creative Liberty with it.

There are times though I do send her sketches, so for example our classes of family.

The first sketch that she sent me, the cover looks nothing like it does now.

The idea kind of just popped in my head when I was at the library with my daughters.

I asked the librarian can I borrow a piece of paper and she gave me one.

I sketched out this very.

It literally had stick figures at the bottom where the.

Kids that you?

See on the cover, And I sketched a little look like a home schoolhouse.

I told her, oh, I’d love a schoolhouse because it makes me think of a home house, makes me think of a home, which makes me think of a family.

So I sketched this janky schoolhouse, but then she was able to create the cover that you see.

Please tell me you saved that.

I really hope you saved that and framed it somewhere.

I actually, I when I do my author visits with schools, I actually show them that sketch and then talk about with them how you know, we all have different talents or skills.

That’s the great thing about working together and collaborating as you can share your ideas and then people can use their gifts, their strengths.

I was not given the gift of illustration that Sandy does.

But when you work together, then you can write, yeah?

Adam, am I talking over you?


No, no.

I just, I I love, I love this conversation.

I was just thinking like OK, so then you have you have your illustrator, you have your story, you are like really ready to go.

You got to find somebody to publish the book.

So how did how did that are you self published?

Did you find I?

I can see who it it is in here, but I just love people to talk about, you know, how, how that process worked for you.

Of course.

So I think I mentioned the same phrase to Adam the last time we talked.

But you know, on Facebook how it has the, you know, your marital status, single, married, divorced and then it’s complicated.

Yeah, me with public, it’s complicated.

It’s complicated.

So right now, currently I’m a little of both.

I’m self published because I distribute on my own through the shop, on my website, through various independence bookstores, some distributors that distribute to school libraries, things like that.

So through my website and then I’m also self published through Amazon.

But then I do also work with a traditional publisher for the additions of my book that are sold in Target.

They’ve expanded now to to other retail stores like Walmart, things like that.

And then and then and then just most recently I’m now starting to just because I’ve had a lot of international publishers reach out.

But there’s that language barrier and it’s a lot of times, you know, I don’t know what I’m looking at when I’m looking at contracts.

So I’m now working to with a literary agent who is doing helping me correspond with foreign publishers and the books are going to be published in now various other countries, which I’m super excited.

I love you know I I look at this book and I see equality well put together.

You know book that I know that if I put it in classroom with kids it would it it’s going to stand up it’s like it’s like perfectly done.

But I wanted to kind of mention something that you you touched on is that you kind of had to do a little bit of both.

And often times I think that people feel like there is one path to success and that you have to go to the big, you know, Penguin.

Is Penguin still a thing?

I don’t know.

You have to go to these big publishing houses in order to become an author.

And yet you know when you have the vision, the belief, the tenacity, because I feel like that’s what you had to have Shannon, because you said it was a lot you know, tenacity to work that passion through.

Then there can be sorry about the Ding success On the other end I I was thinking of, I was thinking of two things I wanted to kind of share.

One was Colleen Hoover who has taken the world by storm.

If I if I read this correctly, she started off as a self published author.

People said we don’t want to publish your stories.

Have you heard that as well?

Not about Colleen Hoover specifically but I but I do.

But I do know that there are a lot of well known authors that did start out as self published.

I believe the author of Pete the Cat started out.

So yes, I, you know, there can be kind of a a stigma still, I think with self-publishing people think, you know.

I’ve only made it if you know it’s with one of the big 5 publishers.

I think it’s really what you’re looking to do, You know, If you’re someone who who needs or wants that validation, nothing wrong with going for it.

You know, get an agent, see what happens.

For me personally, I chose to start with self-publishing and remain self published.

Even though I did have other options as I went along, I’ve still chosen to remain it just because I like being able to have the freedom and creative liberty to work with Sandy.

I know a lot of times you know with a publisher, they may, you know, they like your idea, but they may take it and run with it.

They may have something else in mind with an illustrator.

So I like being able to have that freedom to make.



And then the way I kind of thought of it too, when I was deciding just starting when I was first starting out, I thought, well, I could try giving it a go with traditional publishing.

I don’t know if anything will transpire from it because, you know, I’m not a celebrity, I’m, I don’t have any previous books.

Even if you do have, you know, a manuscript that you think you know would be useful to put out into the world, it can be hard to even have a publisher look at your it might never even end up on their desk.

And so you know the book was something I felt very passionate about.

I I want, I already.

I’m like, I want it here.

I want to read it to my students.

And I strongly feel too it could be helpful in other classrooms as well.

I don’t want to sit on it for years and years and I thought, well.

It’s a long time.


And the more research I did, you know, traditional publishers, they will help with marketing.

But I think a lot of the marketing still falls on the author.

I think it’s still expected that, you know, you have social media pages, they want you to promote your own book.

And so I thought, well, if I’m doing that anyway and you know I was a little bit already, I had a somewhat of a network through doing TPT where I was already sharing ideas with teachers.

And I thought, well, I I’m already, you know, I have direct source here.

So let me let me just give it a try.

If it doesn’t work out, I can always try traditional publishing as I go.

But I think it’s just you have to go for it and it’s also what you’re what you’re looking to do.

I mean there’s many people they just want to publish a book.

They’re not looking at it as you know where they looking to sell tons and tons of copy or make a business out of it.

They just might have an idea that’s been on their minds, on their heart that they want to put out into the world.

And I think self-publishing, it’s great that it can make it possible for people to do that.

And you know, if someone’s goal is to start a business, they do want to have a big impact and get, you know, copies of their book into the hands of as many people as they can.

It’s possible, You know.

It’s just like.

Well, you’re the success.

It can.

It can.

I mean, I think you’ve seen it happen.

I know you’ve worked.

You’ve worked and worked and worked and it’s not just you put a book out.

It happened, right?

But it it’s funny how I I’ve noticed it and I’m sure you’ve seen it in certain instances.

Like when I when I wrote my first book, it’s that silly little ridiculous doodle back there.

If you’re watching this, Y’all can see it on my shelf.

I did it because a student in my classroom asked a question and I was like, I’m going to put this into a book.

And it really came because I had students that year who, no matter what I did, I could not get them motivated to write.

They didn’t want to write.

They like nothing we were doing.

So I was like, you know what?

Maybe if I show them that I wrote a book, they’re going to want to write more.

And I kid you not.

I tell this in my my workshops when I talk about writing all the time with teachers.

Like the very next day 9 out of 10 of my students came in with a little book that they had made at home and stapled and said, can we read this to the class?

I’m like, Oh my God, this this works, right?

And then when I wrote my second, when I wrote Yellow about my friend honor that we’ve talked about on the show quite a bit, that was written to put a copy in every single classroom in our school to keep the memory of her, this teacher that passed away alive at our school.

And never in a million years did I think I’d be travelling around doing assemblies on that book, because it was done for our school, you know, but someone caught wind of it and and it it spread.

So it kind of happened by accident.

Adam Accidents, right.

Super quick.

Was that somebody the Ted Talk people?

It might have been the Ted talk people that helped push that out there but it it is.

And I think that’s why the the self-publishing world can be so powerful and I’m not knocking big time publishers and not at all they’re listening and want to reach out to us feel.

But at certain points you know the way we’ve done it you Shannon and I’ve done it, it’s you get to control it and you yourself are pushing yourself and and you’re putting your name out there and yeah you’re doing the marketing but but you are doing it and you don’t have to rely on someone else where in a big pool of authors you’re just another number, right.

Like if if you’re working for someone and relying on them to do it.

So I’m curious and we can talk about this another time, maybe you and I and DD without.

I’m curious to know as someone who’s done it, how you are making it work, both like through Amazon but also on your own website.

So maybe we can touch on that another time.

Like, I want to know, is your garage filled with books?

The answer is yes.

So I still remember that very first time that, you know, we had books printed.

And I don’t think I quite imagined correctly how big a pallet of books is.

And at the time, you know, we lived in a tiny little condo.

You know, the truck pulls up with this big pallet of books.

He’s like, where am I putting this?

There wasn’t even space to park my car in the garage.

We had to get really creative, put books in every nook and cranny of our house, Bit room for my car.

We’ve now, we’ve now streamlined it a little better.

We have a a warehouse where all of the books are kept, so that’s where most of the inventory is stored.

But my husband, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without him.

We’re kind of like the mom and pop version of book distribution, but he’s created this whole distribution center in our garage.

And then we basically from the warehouse we have, you know, they drop off the books on the truck and then from there those are the ones we distribute.

And then we also ship in mass to Amazon.



So you’re you’re selling directly to Amazon, You’re not.

Are you still using like KDP as a as a print on demand source?

I do a little of both.

I would love to move toward strictly offset printing just for quality control.

Sometimes with print on demand there can be misprints, which is super frustrating.

I’m saying that they.

Have no control.



Where they?

I’ve shown up to schools.

I’ve shown up to.

Schools and done.

Where was I?

I was in Iowa.

I showed up at this school to do a workshop with teachers, and they were, like, you said, exactly right.

They’re like, hey, can you sign our books?

But we’re gonna order some more.

And I was like, well, like, is something wrong?

I was getting there.

Like, they all got printed upside down.

I was like, oh, my gosh.

Like, we’re gonna sign, We’re gonna have you sign it and keep it, because maybe that’ll be worth something someday.

It’s like, don’t kid yourself.

There’s probably a million of those.

I love that.

No, I mean, yeah, so that can be super frustrating.

That being said, I don’t want to knock KDP because there’s so many conveniences about it.

I do continue to use it just for distribution purposes during peak times of year.

I don’t want you know it to say the books are sold out or out of stock.

So that helps us with keeping the books in stock.

So pros and cons to the print on demand and the offset printing.

Best thing about print on demand is it’s out of sight, out of mind, right.

You don’t have the boxes and the shipping in the garage.

So it’s really like I said there’s not one one right way to do these, but it’s it’s whatever works best for someone if this is something they’re looking to do.

But like you said it, it is a lot of work.

There is a lot that goes into it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kind of want to in the DD if it’s OK if we kind of swing this direction with this now.

I know we’re kind of running out of time, but for the teachers that are listening, who are going, I love this.

I love your books, I love what you do.

I have zero interest in writing a book though.

I just want to learn more from Shannon.

Can you touch on a little bit?

I mean, obviously the way you ran your classroom and the way you built the community and culture and everything that you did when you were teaching had an impact on you writing this book called Our Class as a Family.

So do you have any tips, suggestions especially, you know, now that we’ve come back after winter breaks, that’s always kind of a re restart in the year, right?

Where things have kind of fallen apart and now you’re coming back together because they’ve got to get back into routines and expectations.

What were your go to strategies or the way you maybe started your year or you know, fixed things that might have been not going the way you wanted to to to really help develop that family like atmosphere in your room?

Because you obviously had something in place where this idea wouldn’t come about.

Yeah, absolutely.

So, you know, every classroom is different.

I can really only speak to my own experience, but what worked well for me, I feel like it’s a combination of two main things.

If you kind of look at it as two big umbrellas and everything else comes under it, one big umbrella is, you know, just those small everyday interactions with kids, the things that don’t seem like a big deal, but they’re a big deal.

You know, greeting each, each student in the morning, asking them something you know, about them that’s outside of school and then following up on it.

You know if you ask them about, oh, you had a, your piano recital and then asking them about, you know, just those personal interactions with kids and then cultivating that where they have that with each other.

So just, you know, those casual interactions that’s kind of one umbrella and then the other umbrella is the more, I hate to use the word systematic, but the more intentional class community building.

So whether that’s through a morning meeting, if it’s daily or once a week even, you know, I just finished creating, it’s a weekly morning meeting that aligns with the books about being a class family.

So, you know, I know teachers, a lot of the concern is always time.

You know, where do I fit in the time for team building, community building when I’m just trying to make it through all of the standards and the curriculum.

So, you know, I created a once a week, 1 where at least you’re hitting it once a week to make it, making it manageable.

So I think it’s like I said, having intentional things you’re focusing on, you know, that are related, related to community like growth, mindset, inclusion, acceptance, all of those things inner intertwined with the personal interactions, if that makes sense.

I feel like you can’t have one without the other because if it’s you know we’re all just you know you know not having any.

Sorry that didn’t I lost my.

It does make sense.

It makes contagious.

It’s contagious, Helps me all the time.

No, I I love it.

And you’re right, though.

I’m so glad you started that.

Every classroom is different and DD and I preach that everywhere we go and talk to teachers that you know, I know I’ve said it.

I know she has said it.

You just said it.

Like I don’t believe any two classrooms ever should look the same.

You know that they, they should reflect the teacher and the students that are in there.

And I’ve always been a believer and I I I joke, but I I truly believe.

I don’t know if it’s fate or destiny or some higher power.

I truly think every single child is put in your classroom for a reason, and whether you know you have one of those days where you see that as a good or a bad thing, it happens.

I twitch, don’t let the eye start switching.

There is a reason.

So the fact that you you started with that is is awesome.

I think teachers need to hear that that it’s OK to do what you are doing right?

And but the fact that you looked at it with that two sided approach is is awesome because it wouldn’t even.

Not every kid is the same either, right?

Some kids need it this way.

Some kids need it that.

Yeah, absolutely.

And a lot of these things are things teachers do naturally.

Oh, I’m.

Sorry, right now, I’m so sorry to interrupt, but if you can see this DD’s dog just like stretched out Marilyn Monroe pose back there.

I’m impressed.

You can see it on that tiny little part I know.

And he’s so dark you can’t quite see what he looks like.

Man, he saw Superman out there.


Sorry, I don’t know if you see it and I just had to laugh at that.


Not at all.

I’m just.

I’m thinking I need to change my eyeglass prescription to yours.

Let’s see.

What was I saying?

Oh, every.

Class is different and unique, and they’re in your room for a reason.

Oh yeah.

And you know, I think a lot of the times, teachers, it’s things you already do naturally and you don’t even realize the benefit that it’s having towards building that classroom family, that type of feel, if that makes sense.

And you know, I feel like that’s something that so many teachers have already said about their classes.

You know, even if they haven’t called it a family, in many ways they already are without even realizing.

I always talk about I had a a teacher that I worked with.

You know, there’s if you were to go on to social media, you would think that the only way to get students to be engaged is to be loud singing, you know, on a table or any of those types of things.

Which I think for if if I were to do that, I would be in the, ER.

First of all, I don’t think that would be authentic to myself.

But you know, I I you can already tell I talk with my hands and so I am rather animated, animated, animated, animated.

But I taught in this this house, this school house was really like a really old like 100 year old schoolhouse.

And right directly beneath my classroom was Missus Majeski, who was so quiet.

And she, you know, she, you know, I had to go all the time because she was so quiet.

But those students adored her and worked hard for her and she adored them, was very protective of them.

And she was this phenomenal teacher.

And she, you know, if you, if you weren’t like a mouse in her classroom, you probably wouldn’t notice it.

And so, you know, I love that you said, you know, we we’ve been talking about how teachers are different.

I think the most important thing is to be authentic to who you are.

Don’t try to pretend like the teacher on TikTok.

Don’t try to pretend like the teacher on Instagram.

Be you.

Be true to you know, make your heart be true.

Students will see it every.




I think students, kids, if anything, are even more intuitive to that than adults might be.

You know, when it feels, it just feels right.

Yeah, It feels real, yeah.

Was I?

I’m trying to think, did you just made me maybe you and I talked about this last week about favorite teachers and and how it’s different for or where’s it.

Maybe it was in the keynote I did last week.

I don’t.

That was a dream.

But that was a dream, Adam.

No, but that’s so true.

And I think, I think the cool thing about that is, is it it can change with from student to student but it can also change as students grow and change too.

And I was just talking about this with with teachers.

Maybe it was my virtual workshop I did on Friday.

How like my favorite teacher that I mentioned all the time was my second grade teacher, Missus Crapne.

I my mom’s used to tell me that I’d like pick her flowers on the way to school every day and pick them to her and I’d come home and be like mom.

Missus crapne was wearing a new dress today.

Like I adored her.

And we still stay in touch to this day.

But when I got to 5th grade, my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Currier, who was night and day different from Missus krapnel, I mean 100% different, became one of my favorites that I would remember forever.

But it was because of I think it was my age, my learning style at that time and and there was another fifth grade teacher.

We had two fifth grade teachers in our school that year and they were I mean they were couldn’t be more different and I got placed in his room and I truly think it was for a reason and and I think that’s so important to remember that you are a.

Whole other episode Adam Peterson it.

Must have been, I don’t know.

But you, you teachers that are listening, you, I truly believe it.

That that those kids are there for a reason and whether or not they’re going to be a child that that, you know remembers years down the road or that you comes back and visits you or what not that year with you is so important.

They’re there for a reason and they need you and and just as much as you need them.

And I I think what you said DD is is so is so relevant.

Like be true to who you are in this field and don’t try to let the outside influences take you down a path that you don’t belong in.

You know not every classroom is the Pinterest worthy classroom.

Not every office has trim finish painted.

Or a lab stretching out so.

I love it.

Or an ironing board with your level.

Yeah, I know that teachers are going to listen to this or Shannon and they’re going to say, Oh my gosh, I heard you mention school visits and author visits.

So tell us about that.

That’s got to be such a fun thing, going from the classroom, you know, and an author to classroom now an author.

But could you go back and see classrooms and share with teachers students?

Author visits are the highlight of my week.

I just, I enjoy it so much.

I always have so much fun, you know, just getting to share my passion with classrooms and then just motivating kids.

Like when you mentioned about, you know, when you read your, your book to the students and then they came back and you know, with their notebooks.

My favorite thing is when I get emails back from teachers talk, then they tell me how excited their kids are to write.

Now you know, they just it kind of like you said, especially at this point in the year when classes start to lose steam a little bit, Yeah.

It just gives that extra spark, you know, where you know they get inspired or and like you said too, if you’re teaching, you don’t quite know one little thing you say or one thing you might do.

But there’s there could be just one little thing that resonates one student and that can really help them in whichever kind of way.

And that’s one of the big reasons I love doing a.

Lot of these kids.

I’m sorry, but how do people, how how do people contact you to do author visits?

How do they reach out to you and find you and make that happen if they’re interested?

Yeah, so I have all of the information on my website.

Actually I need everything is on my website.

You know, teaching ideas, direct pricing for my books, all the info about author visits.

I actually also do calls for book publishing.

I just started doing that recently since a lot of people have have reached out to ask.

But yeah, it’s all my website,

I love it.

I love it checked.

It out the other day after we talked and I was, I was blown away.

It’s it’s a beautiful sight.

First of all it’s it’s gorgeous, but so much information on there too.

For teachers, it’s chock full of stuff.

It reminded me of D DS I I think back to the the days where I used to search Doctor.

I still do Doctor Jean Feldman’s website.

Hers was like this rabbit hole of stuff you can go down.

And I found myself just scrolling down your site, Shannon and I was like, it doesn’t end.

It just keeps going and going and going.

So I mean props to you because you’re you’re doing it.

It’s awesome.

So thank you so much.

And then, oh, I should also mention too, since you talked about author visits.

I do try and give away a free author visit every time I open it up for new dates.

So I usually share that on my Instagram page.

So I always say you can’t win if you don’t enter.

So I try and just as a, you know, giving back to the teaching community, I do like to do those free author visits from time to time as well.

So are your your author visits just so people listening know are you are He’s 100% virtual.

Are you traveling to local schools or traveling the country at all?

I would love to travel outside where I live in California, but you know, I’m a mom, I have two school age kids, so that makes it a little trickier to travel during the week.

That’s my priority at this phase of life.

But I do in person local visits in the Orange County area and then I do virtual visits couple times a week with classes all over the US.

I’ve done visits with classes in Canada.

So that’s the great thing about technology is even if I can’t physically be at the school, try and pack as much as I can into those virtual visits so that hopefully the kids feel like you were right there with them.

Well, yeah, I’m sure in in today’s day and age with education, it’s probably a lot more affordable and easy for a teacher to bring you into their classroom like this rather than trying to convince their school to, you know, book you for travel and and.

Oh yes, and don’t get me wrong, I love, like, right now.

I love that I can be in pajama pants during during the incident.

Nobody has to know.

Yeah, you’re probably not missing.

I mean, we had some seriously cold weather in Colorado, and then I know Adam as well has had some seriously cold weather.

So you’re probably not missing trudging through an airport and trying to get.

Especially like when I lived in Southern California, I didn’t even own a heavy jacket.

Like I didn’t even own one.

I had my ski cat, my ski parka, but that wasn’t really something you would wear around town.

You you looked a little odd doing that, but yeah, didn’t even own a heavy coat.

Oh, I don’t know.

When it hits about 60s here, I’m like, well, I think I’ll put on a scarf, you know, I’m at my kids soccer games with the blanket over my head.

And I, yeah, I got the parka over me.

So yeah, I probably wouldn’t be able to hack it.

Saturday it’s it’s it’s 15 right now, so it’s pretty warm compared to the weekend.

Saturday was -4 with a felt like -38 here with the Wim.

Chiller, you.

Couldn’t even go outside.

It was crazy.

My poor dog was like on crutches.

Coming back in his feet hurt so bad.


A good weather to stay in and write a book, right?




One one more quick question with the the visits because I know people listening and be like, Oh my gosh, I want, I want an author next week.

How far out are you booking these?

You said when new dates open up.

Is it something if teachers are listening to this, you know now in January, whenever let’s do like they need to get on board because you’re booking out to the end of the school year or what are you?

What’s your timeline suggestion?


How soon in advance?

Yeah, I do typically open it up for back to school time is probably the busiest time.

I open those up usually in the summer and then I will then open it up for new dates and those usually book up pretty quickly, the fall ones and then I open it up again in November for the new year.

Those typically sell out as well, not as quickly as the back to school time frame, but I do still have at this time I believe a couple of them open.

I try and leave some dates open too just in case for those in person visits that pop up.

But like I said, if you do ever go on to the website and you see that it’s not open or all of the dates are full, I do always open up, open it up again in the summer and then typically around November for the second part of the school year.

Love it.


It Well, we’ll put your your website in the show notes for sure and we’ll link it everything.

But I just got to say congratulations.

I mean what a what a cool to see this dream of this idea if you’re in classroom come to life.

I’m sure your your kids love it that mom’s an author and gets to visit school and all that and you just got to be so proud of yourself.

It’s amazing.


I I love getting to talk with other people too that you know are in the space that write books like you, Adam, and then like you, Didi.

I know you have some amazing resources for teachers, so it’s so much fun for me to get to talk with with teachers and with people like you who contribute to the teaching community in such a big way.

Thank you.

Thank you for everything you do is lovely meeting you officially and I can’t wait to hear about your new book that’s coming out, so hopefully we can get a little sneak peek maybe.

Maybe soon if we, if we.

Butter up a little bit more.

Thank you so much, Shannon.

Thank you so much again.


We’ll see you next time, guys.



About the Podcast

The Classroom Collaborative Podcast is a show about teaching, classroom, and education. We tackle new classroom tips and tricks in every episode.

About Your Hosts

Deedee Wills is an early childhood educator, instructional coach, and international educational consultant. She is also the author of the award-winning blog, Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.

Adam Peterson is a kindergarten teacher, nationally recognized speaker, and educational consultant. He also the creator of the popular YouTube channel,

I hope you enjoyed this episode! See you on the next one!

Deedee & Adam

Special Guest Childrens' Book Author Shannon Olsen

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Special Guest Childrens' Book Author Shannon Olsen


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