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I Didn’t Expect…

Instagram photo from Bethany Hall. A slide from my keynote. (Can you see me? I’m the tiny person on the right, behind the podium.)

As many of you know, I’ve been a busy girl this week. I was at Judson University’s Literacy in Motion conference on Wednesday speaking about my work with celebrations. Then yesterday I was the opening keynote for the All-Write Summer Institute. Today Patrick Allen (author of Conferring: The Keystone of Reader’s Workshop) and I are presenting together. (Can I just tell you that I love presenting with Patrick? His book is brilliant and he is the kind of presenter who can make you laugh and make you pause and make you blink back tears.) I really enjoy presenting and am totally soaking up these few days because (sadly) I have nothing on the docket after this. (I didn’t even submit a proposal to NCTE!)

Yesterday, at the All-Write Conference, April Pulley Sayre suggested to make a list when you have all kinds of thoughts swirling around. This is sound advice. She went on to say that lists often ground creative people. It is a simple system to try to grab hold of some of our ideas.

I have a lot of ideas swirling around. It seems like a good time to make a list.

  • I didn’t expect to get goosebumps when Nancy introduced me at Literacy in Motion. She said I’ve had a significant impact on her as a teacher.
  • I didn’t expect Dr. Steve Layne to go out on a limb and advocate for more copies of my book, believing they would sell.
  • I didn’t expect to be identified as someone in the field who is carrying on the mission set forth by Don Graves.
  • I didn’t realize I’ve inspired so many people to write their stories.
  • I didn’t realize I could make people laugh.
  • I didn’t realize I would make people cry.
  • I didn’t expect to be told again and again and again that my work inspires others to be better teachers.
  • I didn’t expect encouragement and support from so many rock stars, leaders in our field.
  • I didn’t expect the text messages wishing me well.
  • I didn’t expect so many people to stop me and tell me my message was powerful.
  • I didn’t expect to sign books and take so many photos.
  • I didn’t expect people to be thinking about me in so many different places today.
  • I didn’t expect my friend Barb to reference my favorite book in her introduction, nor that I would have to blink back tears when she called me a mentor. (Is it possible to be her mentor when she is mine?)
  • I didn’t expect to get a new book idea.
  • I didn’t expect the aftermath would be so sweet. I struggled over writing a keynote that reflected my struggles and choices and joy and story as an educator. It was hard work. (In fact, until last Monday I was petrified I was going to fail.)

There are so many things that I didn’t expect. There is so much that I don’t realize. I read blog posts, emails, and comments from so many of you, and yet, I don’t realize I’m making the impact that people have been saying I make.

I go through my ordinary days. I document bits and pieces of my thinking here and there. I write articles and books. These are simply the things I do. They are normal, regular, ordinary things, and they have become such a part of me that I’m taken aback when I find out they are things that change others.

Because, here’s the thing, it’s not me. It’s you. You are the one who chooses to  tell your story and put words on the page. You are the one who makes the choices for best practice. You are the one who determines your philosophy. I’m just thankful to be part of your journey, to get to walk beside you from time to time.

To end my list: I didn’t expect to feel so grateful and humbled and, well, successful.

Thank you for this.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

32 thoughts on “I Didn’t Expect… Leave a comment

  1. I loved being there for your keynote, and I love your reflection. We are indeed blessed to have you as part of our writing, thinking, reflecting, passionate, change-making journeys.

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  2. I think that part of the magic in the work that we do is that we don’t expect and don’t realize the impact we can have as teachers because we are “in the moment”…teaching as we love to teach, preparing and enjoying the teaching moments with our students. Stepping back, as you were able to do, and basking in the joy of those realizations is sweet recompense for all the thought and sweat and worrying and planning, don’t you think. Congratulations on a wonderful Institute…and thank you for all you and Stacey do to inspire teachers through all you share at TWT!

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  3. Your keynote struck just the right tone. We always need to remind ourselves that we do influence others, that we (the teachers) are the most powerful force in the classroom. You reminded us of that. You inspire me every time we meet whether online or in person. Thank you for all of your encouragement!

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  4. What I love about you is your transparency. You are so influential to us because you ARE one of us, too. You share the whole spectrum in telling the story of writing, reading, teaching and life. It is inspiring because you are so authentic. What a blessing it has been to me to discover this amazing resource you and Stacey share. It nurtures my teacher’s heart and encourages me in ways I am just discovering after just a few short months. That is a precious gift.

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  5. This list was a great way to capture the floaty of feeling of these past few days. You need to be able to take hold of that feeling when the monsters in your head start getting rowdy. You need to be able to take hold of that feeling when your heart needs to hear the message, “I am enough,” again. You need take hold of that feeling and carry it with you because that feeling is the way you deserve to feel all the time. I feel lucky that by spending so much time alongside you, I felt the residual effects of your floaty good feeling! Thank you for sharing so much time with me in the midst of such a powerful few days. I value the work you do and the person you are. Your presentations were both amazing, and so are you!

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  6. Yep, maybe in the last two days you saw a little bit of what we all have been seeing for a while, a person speaking for what is real, meaningful and right. People=Story and you made this so clear in your message. You were able to inspire even more to unlock those stories and start putting them somewhere, maybe even share them. It’s a growing experience to “realize” and “expect,” then get so much more from both. I’m so happy for you, success is sweet!

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  7. Maybe you didn’t expect, Ruth, but you should know. Because you do inspire and you do encourage and you do put yourself out there to the world and it changes things.

    I would have loved to hear your keynote, but I’m glad to know you here in cyberspace.

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  8. Your keynote was one of the most powerful ones that I’ve ever heard. It was the kind of message that we all need to hear now and then to remind us to stop and think about our story and the impact that story has on our teaching, our students and ourselves. Your words left an impression on me…they stuck with me and I have found myself thinking about them many times in the days since. Thank you for sharing your story with us and being the encouraging force that you are!

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  9. Oh, and love the slide, BTW. Excellent use of font and white & black!! 🙂
    Would you consider sharing the presentation for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there?

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  10. Ruth, I knew you’d be a smashing success. I thought about you many times yesterday and today and am sad I’m not there to learn from you…with you. God’s given you a remarkable gift — to be a person of impact. I love how you ‘get that’ and how the minutia becomes the significant. Enjoy the sweet aftermath! Blessings!

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  11. Ruth, your words have great power and strength! I am always so inspired by you and Stacey through your blog. Thank you for being such a model educator for us out there~! 🙂

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  12. Congratulations on your keynote, Ruth. I would love to have been there cheering you on, knowing that I could say I read this person, and connect with her. She has made a huge impact on my life, like all you others who are applauding and applauding. Thank you for such a sweet post about yourself. I’m so glad for you that it went beautifully, but not surprised!

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  13. Ruth, you are an inspiration to countless people around the world. What an amazing contribution and phenomenal footprint you are making. Yours is a one-of-a-kind legacy with a magnanimous ripple effect on generations to follow. You light the world and thank you for sharing your light.

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  14. I didn’t expect to miss your keynote and the All Write, after the fantastic time I had last year, but I had to, and am so sad. I have learned so much from you and Stacy and am so grateful for you and your blogs. I DO expect to be there next year!
    Tammy

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  15. Great list. I always find it surprising that people I admire don’t know how terrific they are…..I guess we all need to be told that once in awhile. Enjoy the accolades!

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  16. Ruth,
    Congratulations! Well deserved accolades! You have inspired me in so many ways! Keep doing what you do!
    Thanks for all of your work!

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  17. Ruth, you will never fully know the impact you and Stacey have had on so many people around the world. It’s great that you caught a small sliver of your fan base these last few days. Your ordinary days become extraordinary when you put words down to record life and share them with the world. I thank you every time I get to read them.

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  18. Thank you, Ruth! I’m doing the Colorado Writing Project this week, and now I have my mentor text for today. You always inspire me!

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  19. As we say in our household, you were famous today, and it’s fun to be famous. Especially when you are famous because you did what you are called to do, what you are passionate about. How cool is that!

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  20. Touching list – you certainly did make us laugh and cry. You certainly have inspired many to write and tell their stories. Thank you for all you do.

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  21. The photo you put with this post, Ruth, is the most important take-a-way for me. With all the distractions we can easily forget that story is the glue that moves us, binds us, and commits us to press on. Story fuels our passion, reminding us of of love of making a difference in the lives of our students. Just as importantly, story reminds us that we are not alone. We are in this together, sharpening each other, encouraging each other, and celebrating together. Thank you, Ruth, for reminding us that we indeed matter, that we make a difference.

    Rick

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