(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),
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.