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.