Frequently Asked Questions for Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl

The index in Continuing the Journey to Literacy appears to be off. What is going on? How do I fix it?

My sincere apologies. The index is off on some copies of Continuing the Journey to Literacy. There is an easy way to tell--look at the last page: About the Author. If the About the Author page is on page 951, the index is off. If it is on page 950 it is not. If your copy is affected, there is an easy fix--download the refreshed index. 

Then, make lemonade from the lemons. The book is 950 pages. The easiest way to use the book is to rebind it into smaller books with spiral binding. For example, I rebound my copy into four shorter books, as shown below. When you rebind the book,  simply swap out the indexes. 

How can I rebind my copy of the book?

Take the book to an office supply store such as Office Max and have it spiral bound into several shorter books. 

For example, Office Max can cut the binding off the book and then rebind it using spiral binding. I recommend breaking the sequel into four or six shorter books. Some people like to make each section into a separate book. Others like to group sections as follows: Sections 1 and 2; Section 3; Section 4; and Sections 5 and 6 to the end (see picture above). 

When the book is rebound in this fashion, you can have multiple sections open at the same time. You can also place the book flat on the table and annotate in the margins. It is much more user friendly. 

I recommend that you print off several new copies of the index and put one at the end of each of your shorter books. (If you have an erroneous index, just discard those pages and substitute the corrected pages.) That way, you will have a complete index at the end of each shorter book you make. 

Download the refreshed index. 

Why is the index off?

I faced numerous challenges publishing Continuing the Journey to Literacy. It was supposed to come out in February 2020. Once the pandemic hit in March, the challenges just seemed to spiral out of control. The person laying out the book faced numerous deaths in his family. My beloved cat died, my husband got appendicitis, and my family had to scramble to find new living arrangements for my parents-in-law. It was a perfect storm. In the midst of all this chaos, I had to make changes to the text. 

Come June, everything was resolved except for the table of contents: the page numbers would not line up correctly. In fixing the table of contents, the index went off, but I didn't realize it at the time. I submitted the book to the publisher a full four months late--just weeks before my in-laws moved across country to become my next-door neighbors.  I got the review copy a few weeks after they moved in. I quickly checked the table of contents, saw that it was good, and approved the book. When I came up for air several months later, I found the problem with the index. I was so busy looking at the beginning, I didn't check the end!

My apologies. My in-laws and I thank you for your understanding.  

Who exactly are the authors for The Roadmap to Literacy and Continuing the Journey to Literacy?

There are two co-authors for The Roadmap to Literacy, but only one author for Continuing the Journey to Literacy

The Roadmap to Literacy: Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl and Janet Langley co-authored The Roadmap to Literacy.  I (Jennifer) brought expertise in literacy, assessment, and remedial issues; Janet brought expertise in Waldorf education. I provided the organization of the book; Janet provided the voice (i.e., the style of the writing). The thesis (why Waldorf literacy was not working --i.e., English is not German--and how to fix it using the phases of literacy) is mine, but Janet brought the impulse to write a book around the idea. Janet and I both wrote and edited the book: she and I both hold copyright.

Continuing the Journey to Literacy: Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl was the sole author for Continuing the Journey to Literacy. I (Jennifer) wrote the sequel by myself.

Why did you decide to write Continuing the Journey to Literacy on your own?  

Janet Langley and I had intended to write the sequel to Roadmap together. However, I was interested in starting it right after finishing Roadmap whereas she wanted to take a break first. I started researching and writing the sequel by myself. When I was almost halfway through writing the first draft, Janet decided that she would not be joining me. At this point, I had invested almost a full year in research and writing. I was almost half-way done with the first draft. I decided to finish the sequel on my own.

How were you able to finish writing the sequel on your own? You do not have Waldorf classroom experience.

It was easier than you might think. My professional background is in remedial education: language arts, literacy, and math, and I have a degree in Waldorf education. That said, I have never worked as a Waldorf classroom teacher. (My lack of classroom experience turned out to be an asset--I had fewer preconceived notions re: Steiner's indications and how Waldorf education is "supposed" to look. ) 

What do you say to the people who insist that you have no right to speak as an educational authority? 

I would point out that my experience as an educator is the same as Steiner’s: tutor. 

Surely you are not saying that tutoring is enough?  

Yes and no. 

Consider this: A classroom teacher works with upwards of 30 Waldorf students, ideally one class in one school. I have worked with hundreds of Waldorf students from at least five Waldorf schools and from homeschooling families. Classroom teachers have depth—I have breadth. Both are necessary. 

That said, I did find it necessary to work with Waldorf mentor teachers. I asked for and received help from some talented and insightful Waldorf mentors. These mentors provided the necessary information and inspiration so that I could finish writing the sequel.

Who are the Waldorf mentors who helped you with Continuing the Journey to Literacy?

I was able to work with many Waldorf mentors. They include the following (presented in alphabetical order): 

1.Prairie Adams, author of Waldorf Curriculum Frameworks, Pedagogical Director of Wasatch Charter School, and a Steward in the Gradalis Teacher Training Program. Prairie helped organize grammar into grades. Her help and support made it possible to align the material in Continuing the Journey to Literacy and Waldorf Curriculum Frameworks

2.Anna Rainville, Waldorf educator, author, and mentor. Anna gave me scores of ideas and suggestions great and small on almost every topic addressed in the book. Many of her suggestions and ideas ended up in the book. Her questions and suggestions inspired the first rewrite of the grammar chapter. 

3.Eugene Schwartz, Director for the Online Conferences for Grades 1–8. Eugene provided the inspiration (and then the technical expertise) on how the Waldorf teacher works with consciousness (Chapter 2.8). This information is necessary to bring the technical aspects in Continuing the Journey to Literacy to life. I provided the physical vessel (i.e., the 17 aspects of language arts and an organization of Steiner’s indications)—Eugene helped develop the soul (i.e., how the Waldorf teacher brings the Waldorf curriculum to life).

4.Mary Spotts, literacy specialist at Denver Waldorf School. Mary provided information about teaching grammar in context. Her critique inspired a further revision of the grammar chapter. She helped bring the grammar chapter into perfect balance by providing information on an aspect of grammar I had never considered.

5.Betty Staley, Waldorf educator, author, and consultant. Betty provided invaluable feedback and suggestions about sacred nothings. Her critique of an early draft proved invaluable. She provided the direction for a much more balanced and objective look at changes to the Waldorf curriculum. 

In addition, one other mentor provided some information on one of the 17 aspects of language arts, but she does not want to be associated with the sequel. I wish to respect her wishes but still acknowledge my gratitude for her help.  

The contributions from these six mentors were invaluable. Their expertise provided the ballast to my research on Steiner and my academic background in literacy, language, and literature. They helped bring balance to the book. I am extremely grateful to them all. 

Thank you, mentor teachers! I could not have done this without you.

Some readers are unhappy that you didn't include block plans and block plan templates in Continuing the Journey to Literacy. Why did you include block plan templates in Roadmap but not in Continuing the Journey to Literacy? 

That’s a good question. There are several reasons, but rather than bore you with all of them, I'll tell you the main reason: I want there to be excellence in teaching.  

There are numerous ways to set up blocks in grades 4-8. Were I to include block plans, many readers would use my work. That would then stifle innovation. I guarantee that most experienced Waldorf teachers can make block plans that are as good, if not better, than mine. I also think that they should.

In Roadmap, there is not as much room for innovation. The students are learning basic literacy skills. The block plans provided in Roadmap are an ideal way to teach those skills. Teachers who feel they can improve on them are encouraged to do so, but most would benefit from using the block plans.

That said, I do think that homeschool parents and inexperienced Waldorf teachers would benefit from more support in Continuing the Journey to Literacy. I am contemplating how best to offer it. I'll let you know what I decide to do. 

Why aren't there more suggestions for images in Continuing the Journey to Literacy?

There are two reasons:

1) Teachers' Freedom: Had I provided more images, it would have undermined my understanding of Steiner's indications. On the dedication page, I wrote: " . . . and to striving Waldorf teachers and homeschool parents, whose intuition will bring the material in this book to life."  I want the readers to use their own imagination, inspiration, and intuition to enliven the contents of Continuing the Journey to Literacy! 

2) Expanding the definition of teaching from the image: Steiner gives two ways to teach from the image: metaphorical speech and spatial pictures. Waldorf education uses quite a lot of metaphorical speech. (For example, the images readers enjoyed in Roadmap were examples of metaphorical speech.) However, spatial pictures are just as important. I decided to highlight more spatial pictures in Continuing the Journey to Literacy.  That way, my books would bring balance.

If you read Continuing the Journey to Literacy,  you will learn more about how to teach from the image--and how to develop your own images in freedom! 

Why is Continuing the Journey to Literacy so long? Why didn't you just make a series of shorter books, one for each grade?

That's easy: I respect Steiner's indications. 

First, Steiner set up the curriculum so that one subject informs a different subject--both within a grade and across the grades. Steiner's term for this process is economy in teaching or soul economy. A separate stand-alone book for each grade would severely limit the use of economy in teaching. 

Second, to teach language arts in a Waldorf school is to teach the entire curriculum. To take language arts out of the context of the subject blocks in grades 4-8 would be to miss much of the beauty of Steiner’s curriculum.  (I have been told that the late Else Gottgens, an extraordinary Waldorf mentor teacher, was fond of saying that every block is a language arts block.  When it comes to teaching the subject blocks in grades 4-8, Else was profoundly right!)

Is the fact that every block is a language arts block the reason why Continuing the Journey to Literacy is so long? 

In part, yes, but it is not the only reason.

First, literacy is more than being able to read, write, and spell! True literacy also includes knowledge of the Book of Nature and the Book of Man (Human Beings). Thus a book about literacy has to address the entire curriculum: English, history, geography, natural science, science, and math. 

Second, Steiner’ indications are for German, but we are teaching English. Therefore, it is necessary to innovate. To guarantee that the innovations were in line with the spirit of Waldorf education, it was necessary to compile Steiner’s exact indications for each aspect of language arts as well as his objectives, methodology, etc. This level of detail allowed me to innovate with confidence. It will allow readers to do the same.  

Third, I thought it prudent to cover my back by demonstrating that what I was suggesting in Continuing the Journey to Literacy is what Steiner recommended. That way, my readers would also have the tools to cover their backs should Waldorf authorities or colleagues object when they followed the curriculum outlined in Continuing the Journey to Literacy

Fourth, I wanted other Waldorf teachers to be able to innovate, so I organized Steiner’s objectives, methodologies, etc. and presented them in the book. 

Fifth, the Waldorf teacher training programs in the United States are almost all gone. I wanted to write a textbook that could be used to support the current online teacher training programs and Art of Teaching workshops. I also wanted to inspire future Waldorf teacher training programs. 

Sixth, when researching Continuing the Journey to Literacy, I was dismayed to see how superficial some presentations of Waldorf education are. Waldorf is known by its external trappings (e.g., its old-fashioned wooden desks and chalkboards) and a reputation for softball academics. I wanted to make it known for the intriguing ideas Steiner articulated about education reform and to make Waldorf synonymous with the pursuit of academic excellence. 

Finally, Continuing the Journey to Literacy is around 950 pages long and it covers five grades. Roadmap is 606 pages and it covers three grades. It takes about 200 page to cover a grade. Therefore, the length of the sequel is in direct proportion to its greater scope: Roadmap has 202 pages/grade and Continuing the Journey to Literacy has 190 pages/grade.

Why didn’t you just decide to write a third book?

Great question! It is expensive to write and self-publish a book. It is also incredibly time consuming. For these reasons, I thought it better to write one sequel rather than two. Writing and self-publishing one book by myself was a serious financial undertaking. 

But I see Roadmap in lots of schools. It seems to me that you must have made a fortune. 

For a variety of reasons, that is not the case. The initial self-publisher went bankrupt, taking most of the royalty money it owed me and Janet with it. It was then necessary to republish the book, which doubled publication costs.

Consider this: I made around $11,500 in book royalties for Roadmap in 2019, and I worked on writing the sequel seven days a week. To put that into perspective, I would have made more money working as a minimum-wage greeter in Walmart than as an author, and I would have had more time off. 

Coincidentally, $11,500 is about how much money I spent on Continuing the Journey to Literacy in 2019. (Self-publishing a book is expensive.)

If the money is that bad, why do it?  

There are several reasons.

First, I have a health challenge that prevents me from holding a regular job: sensitivity to electromagnetic pollution. It would not be entirely wrong to say that I am “allergic” to your cell phone—and your smart watch, iPad, Wi-Fi router, laptop computer, desktop computer, etc. To manage symptoms, I began social isolation in 2016; however, social isolation also reduced my ability to hold a job and make money. I had hoped that writing and publishing a book would allow me to earn money from home. For numerous reasons, that did not turn out to be the case with Roadmap. I have hopes that Continuing the Journey to Literacy will be different. (So does my husband!)

Second, researching and writing Continuing the Journey to Literacy gave my life purpose and meaning. Social isolation is hard. I almost never see friends; I had to give up many hobbies and entertainments. Continuing the Journey to Literacy became my vocation and my avocation. Researching and writing are academically stimulating. I enjoyed collaborating with so many wonderful Waldorf mentors. It was amazing, discovering Steiner’s original indications and reconstructing his vision for Waldorf education. I felt like an archeologist, opening a secret room full of treasures and rebuilding valuable objects from the pieces I found. 

Third, I loved researching and writing Continuing the Journey to Literacy. That's why I worked on it seven days a week.

I can’t wait to see what Waldorf teachers do with the work.  Between Roadmap and Continuing the Journey to Literacy, everything is in place for a renewal of literacy in the Waldorf world. 

It is possible to be allergic to electro-magnetic pollution?

Yes and no. It is not really an allergic reaction per se—more a sensitivity. That said, many of the symptoms feel like an allergic reaction: itchy/burning skin, facial swelling, stomach swelling, difficulty digesting, brain fog, etc. An allergy may not be a medically accurate description, but it is a useful metaphor. 

What do I do if I think I am sensitive to wireless technology too?

A good place to start is to do an Internet search to see if your symptoms could be explained by electromagnetic pollution. A good website is the following:

Next, find a doctor who is willing to treat the problem. This is easier in some countries than others. A condition called electrohypersensitivity is recognized in some countries but not others. 

Note: Do NOT skip this step. It took me about eight years to figure out what was causing my health problems. Since I am in the United States, my doctor refused to treat me for electrohypersensitivity because it is not recognized by the American Medical Association. I gave up trying to treat my condition and figured I would just have to live with it. Six months later I was incapacitated by symptoms, and 18 months later, I began voluntary social isolation to cope. Had I gotten treatment sooner, I could have avoided these outcomes. 

In addition, consider changing your relationship to technology. Almost everything can be wired—and your exposure will be much reduced. (Consider: I wrote a 950-page book on an old computer with an ethernet connection to the Internet, despite having moderately severe sensitivity.) Also, turn off the power to your bedroom at night. Your sleep will be much improved if you do. At a bare minimum, never sleep with the Wi-Fi on or near a cell phone. Everyone would benefit from making these simple changes, not just those who are sensitive. 

How did you come up with the thesis for Roadmap?

My academic background is in language and linguistics. I majored in Russian studies in university (Grand Valley State University, 1994) and completed two years of graduate studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures at The University of Kansas. In the process, I had to study lots of foreign languages—including languages that used a different alphabet (Cyrillic). The take-away lesson for me was that some languages are much more phonetic than others. Some do not even have a word for to spell because spelling is obvious! 

After dropping out of graduate school, I eventually took a job at Lindamood Bell Learning Processes, a private remedial firm that specializes in reading remediation, among other things. I learned how to teach reading there and taught hundreds of students. However, I was interested in other types of education, so I quit my job and took Waldorf teacher training to balance out my technical skills in reading and math remediation with a program that is more holistic.   

When I read Steiner’s indications for teaching literacy in German, it was apparent that German is more phonetically regular than English. However, I did not think much of it until I started tutoring Waldorf students after graduation. Every single one of them had an identical academic profile when I assessed their literacy skills. It was uncanny. They all had underdeveloped phonemic awareness and weak sound-symbol knowledge for vowel letters (but not consonants). Whereas almost every student could identify the uppercase letters, most struggled to do the same with the lowercase letters. I realized that the problem was teachers were trying to use Steiner’s indications for German with their English-speaking students, and teaching lowercase a year later than uppercase was creating problems. I started offering workshops to Waldorf faculties to show them all the other aspects of language arts they needed to teach and to show them the phonics rules for English. 

In 2012, a local Waldorf school did reading fluency assessments with most grades and had a rude awakening: one-third to one-half of each class qualified for remedial reading instruction. Janet Langley was working at this school, and she asked me why. I told her about the differences between English and German. Janet told Christof Wiechert, a visiting dignitary, and he asked me to show him some examples. I showed him a few things, and he asked us to write a book to engage a larger audience. That was the first part of the thesis: English is not German. It is necessary to go beyond Steiner’s indications to teach literacy in English.

A second part of the thesis—the phases of literacy, or the Roadmap to Literacy (based on brain development)—came later. I realized that many students would not be ready to learn to decode CVC words (consonant vowel consonant words like cat, dog, men, hum, etc.) right after learning the alphabet because their phonemic awareness would be too underdeveloped to support decoding. That realization became the basis for the phases of literacy, or the Roadmap to Literacy. I based the phases of literacy on the work of Bear et al. in Words Their Way, and the second phase of literacy became the Phonemic Awareness Phase. 

What do you plan to do next? 

That’s a good question. I am playing with some ideas for other projects. I have online courses to make to support both my books and more website content to write. I have online conferences to participate in and teachers to mentor. I’ll find a way to keep busy. 

If I have questions or comments, what is the best way to get in touch? 

Use the form to submit a question or comment. I will do my best to respond. 

Good luck, and happy innovating!

Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl 

November 2020