“I’m here because I believe in all of you. If one of you goes on to create a blog today, then I’ll be thrilled.”
Those are the words of Dawn. She was the last person to share why she was in this workshop we were presenting, Teachers as Writers. Every year, our district has a professional development day called Westport Learns. The entire teaching staff comes together to choose workshops to attend, all presented by teachers in the district.
Dawn, Erika, Elena, and I were presenting Teachers as Writers and hoped to share our experiences starting blogs and being part of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Community. To be honest, when Erika and Elena pitched the idea, I didn’t think we’d get many participants. I actually figured we’d end up cancelling the workshop due to low enrollment. But we had eleven participants spanning from preschool teachers to middle school and as one participant said, “I think [we] were meant to be there.”
We began the workshop explaining how our presenting group had come to be…how two years ago, on February 28th, Erika had asked me to join her in the Two Writing Teachers’, Slice of Life Challenge. How that next summer a group of teachers got together to read Ralph Fletcher’s, Joy Write at Dawn’s house. How Elena had come to that group. How we are all now part of this beautiful community of writers and what that means for us as teachers of writing. We spoke of many of you, our fellow “slicers,” our virtual friends and the gifts you share with us week after week, through your own words or feedback shared.
We then asked all of the participants to introduce themselves and share why they had come. We didn’t plan for what happened next, but for the next 45 minutes or so, teachers shared about their own writing lives, their dreams and fears. Some teachers spoke of journaling, writing alongside their students, and even of publishing novels. It was through this sharing that we went from a room full of strangers to a new community of writers. I was personally moved by the stories and the openness to try something new…to continue growing.
Dawn was the last to share and her words stuck with me, “I’m here because I believe in all of you.”
These words made me think of something Natalie Louis, from Teachers College, had shared with us recently when she said, “Package up the strength and hand it back to them…no one gets enough of that.”
Dawn’s words and Natalie’s words have me thinking about how to give more of this belief and strength back to people- students, teachers, friends, family, strangers.
In our workshop, the one I thought was doomed for cancellation, I gave it back that day by offering suggestions for blog titles, trouble shooting WordPress and the actual creation of blogs, and through the promise to read the words of anyone who decided they might try a Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge or maybe even the March Challenge.
Today, for all of you, preparing to take on the March Challenge or maybe even just considering, I believe in you. ❤️