education · quote · reflective practice · writing workshop

Filling Needs.

I have this job that I’m incredibly thankful for. It gives me a chance to focus — really focus — on the teaching of writing. Naturally I’m interested in all areas of literacy, as well as other content areas (for those of you who don’t know I’m a licensed biology and chemistry teacher), but my focus is writing and how writing matters in these other realms.

I’ve developed this new passion in the past couple of years — primary writers. This year I have the opportunity to focus on our youngest writers, putting new ideas and latest research into practice. I’m also getting to see how we can transition writers from second grade writers to third grade writers.  The learning curve is steep. The work is remarkable.

I’ve been heavily involved in leading professional development. I like this part of my job too. It’s often a challenging aspect, putting together meaningful presentations and workshops, but it is rewarding in the end.

Then I’ve been attending pd too. Martha Horn, Carl Anderson, and Lucy Calkins all in the less than a month. My brain is filled with thinking and reflecting and processing.

It all comes down to getting the opportunity to fill needs. One of the quotes we used in Day by Day and I like to use in presentations is:

“Find a need and fill it.”

— Henry J. Kaiser

At the end of the day I want to believe if  I found needs and filled them, then the day was a success. Then I start thinking about all of the needs I found, but didn’t fill and I feel, well, I feel inadequate. If I think a little more, then I realize there were needs I didn’t even notice. The ones I was too busy to take in, and I feel disappointed.

What I’m learning and what I’m trying to accept is my little is enough. Right now there are high demands on teachers and quite often, at the end of the day, we can leave school wondering if what we are doing is enough. We can wonder if this is really how we should spend our time day in and day out. Despite all of the chaos I believe it is. Our little makes a difference. When I place my little next to yours and next to his and next to hers, it makes a difference. We make a difference together. As a team. Working toward a goal of changing lives through teaching writers. Just fill one need and know you make a difference.

This quote (a longer version here) is leading me. May it inspire you too.

As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

8 thoughts on “Filling Needs.

  1. Enough. That is a good “one little word.” I need to say that to myself more often. It is humbling, though, to realize that even you (you do soo much, you give so much in so many aspects of your life) sometimes feel inadequate.


  2. It makes a difference what we do. This morning I am throwing on clothes, grabbing my last cup of coffee off the counter and getting to school early so my writing group can meet from 7:45 to 8:45 before school. Imagine 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, only about 10 of us as this new club begins, coming together as writers. Not as a remedial madatory class, but instead with only the focus of supporting each voice that has something to say. Continuing the Writing for Change club with no funding has some teachers raising eyebrows, and on sleepy mornings like this, I too sometimes wonder. But then we get together, and we create, and there is nothing more powerful than that. Another teacher on campus has joined us, and a math teacher came by after school to my classroom the other day, and said, “hey, I want to come.” And so we move forward in the little ways that I think in the end, make a big difference both in my teaching practice, and the future for my students.


  3. Ah…this post did come at the right time! I am so isolated and exhausted and lonely as a teacher at the moment – I wish I had bitten the bullet and just taken the time off from school (and plonked down the $$) to attend NCTE. But your post was a refreshing reminder that our “little bit” DOES make a difference…it’s all worth it. Now I can look at my work bag filled with 26 feature-articles-waiting-edits with a more hopeful eye!


  4. Isn’t the word ‘serendipity’ when you discover an unexpected surprise? That’s what your post was for me. Just the right thing at the right time. Thank you! How encouraging and inspiring! I am passing this along!


  5. This post came at just the right moment for me! I left school today wondering if I was doing enough? Did they move enough in writing workshop? Had I given enough to them? I thought I had & then I started looking at their writing like I do at the end of every unit of study, & I realized after some reflection, that I thought some of them were further in their writing than I thought. I felt deflated! I read this post, went back to their writing & looked with new eyes! I didn’t look at their writing this time with what they were “not” doing, but what they were doing & where I could take them next! “Find a need & fill it” Thank you, thank you! I’m so excited to begin again tomorrow! Happy writing everyone!


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