Posted in 2017, Classroom, Collaboration, Literacy, Reading, Reflection, Slice of Life

#SOL17 Day 12: An Open Letter of Appreciation to Lucy Calkins

Dear Lucy,

(I hope it’s OK if I call you Lucy–your name is probably the most-frequently-used proper noun at my school.)

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of attending your workshop on Reading Workshop in grades 3-5. This was an opportunity I have been waiting on for years and an experience that I have been doing a daily countdown toward ever since my district gave me permission to attend. After being lucky enough to spend close to seven hours listening to you share but a fraction of your wealth of knowledge yesterday, I must take a few moments to share my gratitude and appreciation for the influence you have had on me as an educator.

Thank you for your vision of classrooms and schools where literacy, particularly reading, is a top priority. Your emphasis on the impact of time spent reading in classrooms has absolutely been taken to heart, and I simply can’t imagine a classroom in which I don’t dedicate as much time as possible to reading. Every. Single. Day.

Thank you for reminding us that holding kids to high standards also means that we have to hold ourselves as teachers to high standards, too. We can’t just expect students to achieve without putting energy and effort into giving them the best instruction possible.

Thank you for encouraging us to not just teach, but to own what we are teaching. We need to live as readers ourselves and see the world through the lens of what we want kids to do with their own books.

Thank you for speaking to the power of collaboration. I can’t effectively teach reading if I allow my classroom to become an island. Effective teachers work together in a culture of collaboration to problem-solve, analyze student work, and plan lessons that will reach all readers. As I return to a classroom next year, I know I won’t be able to provide the best reading experiences for kids without the support of a strong team.

Thank you for enlightening us on partnerships in reading, writing about reading, utilizing learning progressions, and incorporating nonfiction in powerful ways. I can’t wait to begin the work I will do with the knowledge and ideas I gained yesterday.

Thank you for focusing on the readers, not the books. We all know there are incredible books out there that we can’t wait to share with excited young readers. But we’re not teaching books. We’re teaching children.

Thank you for impacting me as a reader. Those mini-lessons you modeled? They stuck with me. I caught myself last night, as I was reading a bedtime story to my kids, genuinely reading with my “eyes wide open.” I talked to my children differently about the story. And I couldn’t wait to think more deeply about the novel I’m reading myself.

Thank you for adding “ditto sh**s” to my vocabulary. My relationship with the copy machine at school will never be the same. (Don’t worry, I’m going to let the copier down easy with the old “it’s not you, it’s me” line–because it’s true.)

Thank you for showing us how the things we think are difficult are achievable. Even though we struggle with the length of our mini-lessons (OK, sometimes they’re “maxi-lessons”) and getting students to truly converse with one another about their reading, your practical advice and modeling will absolutely help me make some significant and practical shifts in my practices.

Thank you for your honesty and authenticity. To hear you share real stories, real opinions, and multiple perspectives was incredibly powerful. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your acknowledgement of other experts in the field of literacy and your willingness to defer to their work. It was incredibly empowering as a teacher to hear you say your goal for the day was to share new ideas and perspectives with us so we have the knowledge to make up our own minds in our own schools and try new things with our own students.

Thank you for your passion for literacy. Just as you advised all of us to own the skills we want to teach our readers, you were a true inspiration as you stood in front of us and owned your work as a teacher leader and literacy educator. Your knowledge and wisdom surpass all units and programs and materials; you truly are a model of someone who loves what they do and strives to make a difference in the lives of kids.

Thank you for inspiring me to continue growing, to continue putting kids first, and to continue loving literacy.

Until next time (may that be sooner rather than later),

LUCY group.jpg

I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.



Teacher, mentor, reader, writer, mother, wife Lover of good books, chocolate chip cookies, and sunny days

24 thoughts on “#SOL17 Day 12: An Open Letter of Appreciation to Lucy Calkins

  1. “Lucy – your name is probably the most-frequently-used proper noun at my school.” This made me chuckle. I have worked with people who say the name in awe, those who state it frankly, and those who have a lear in their voice upon aying it. Sounds like you had a day filled with learning and appreciation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope Lucy gets a chance to see this. We all have so much to thank her and her TC colleagues for. They have transformed our classrooms and our thinking about literacy. I especially love the fact that she pushes us to make sure we are readers and writers and thinkers so that we can truly share what this means with our students. Thank you for reminding all of us about some of the most important things we need to consider in our practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful experience for you! I went to a reunion Saturday at Teacher’s College 18 months ago, and was overwhelmed with the amount of incredible knowledge I wanted to share with my colleagues and students. This post is proof that reflection is what helps you take that bounty and whittle it down into manageable, shareable parts. Really beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really love this format, “thank you” I’m going to use it in a future post! We just started Lucy, yes just, and it’s hard work but I’m in love! It’s so nice to see my kids grow and collaborate as learners and find joy in it! I’m going to share this post with coworkers if that is okay!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I share your appreciation of Lucy Calkins and encourage you to go to the reunion next weekend if you are at all close to NY. I live near Boston and drive the 4 plus hours both ways twice a year to have my cup filled to overflowing. After 7 years, I spoke to her this fall, I was completely tongue tied I was so awed to be in her presence. We are fortunate to live in a world with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely tribute to Lucy Calkins; thank you for sharing it with all of us! I think all educators are uplifted when we read or hear a tribute to a fellow educator.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for this post. My teachers sometimes get overwhelmed by her writing program – I wish we could go to a training she held – it sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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