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They Are All Precious

Due to tragic circumstances this week, I am once again feeling present to great loss in my life.

New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice once said, “Anyone with a heart…has experienced loss.  No one escapes unscathed.”  And I know this is true, for I have felt it.  Because I believe I have a heart.  And all of you who work with kids everyday, you have felt loss, too.  Because you have a heart.

In light of this revisitation of grief, which has arrived unexpectedly knocking softly at the door of my present consciousness, I am reminded of both the great honor and sacred responsibility bestowed upon us as teachers.  As we teach our kids to write, we feel, sometimes at a visceral level, the daily challenges our job presents.  No, this work is not easy, nor is it always easily defined.  There remains no formula.  And navigating the contours of each day can sometimes feel frustrating, the rewards fleeting.  But I believe it is so important to remember that each life we impact matters.  Each one of the children with whom we interact is currently living into an uncertain future.  Thus, with kindness and resolution, we greet writers each day, and we do all we can to help them learn what it takes to make their voices heard through the power of the metaphorical pen.  This is our work.

Having lost my only brother and my mother, both rather suddenly (years ago now), I endeavor to always remain present to the fact that we can never know for certain how much time we will be given to teach or work with each student.  The unfortunate and tragic story which has unfolded in my school community this week teaches and reminds me– and perhaps all of us– that there may not always be a “next year.”  And so the work we do now, the work we do to help kids see themselves as writers, to meet them where they are, to support them in lifting the levels of their work, to provide them with expert teaching, coaching, feedback, and guidance so that what they write will be heard and taken seriously… this work is urgent.  It cannot wait.  It requires our full attention; it demands spirited, all-out exertion.  For the future is at stake; our students’ future, as well as our own.  So we must value these children.  Every one of them.  We simply must.

For they are all precious.

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Lanny Ball View All

For more than 25 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

19 thoughts on “They Are All Precious Leave a comment

  1. This is so true, Lanny. There may not be a “next year,” so we writing teachers must live in the moment and teach each individual the best that we could teach them, offer them the best techniques, compliments, tips, etc. Most of all, however, teach them that we care. My condolences to you and your school community. It is truly a tragic loss.

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  2. Lanny, Sorry for your loss and love goes out to your school community. You write beautifully about this and it’s such an important reminder. Thank you for opening yourself up. With aloha, Becca

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  3. Lately (& daily), my son tells me “Ari precious.” I guess he’s heard me tell him that him that he is precious enough times that he feels it in his bones.

    Your message is so important, Lanny. For every child — whether they’re our own or not — must feel they are precious. Because they are.

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  4. What a powerful post. Thank you for sharing and for your reminder of how important it is to keep our hearts open always! I am sorry for your loss.

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  5. Powerful, as Margaret said, is the first word that came to mind for me as well. Lanny, I’m so sorry for the loss your community and you are feeling. This work IS urgent, as you say. Very important message to remember any time of year, any day of the week. Thank you for reminding us of our first job, valuing our students.

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  6. Powerful post. I am so sorry for the loss and grief you are feeling. It never gets easier, but I hope you are finding comfort in community and the love of your students.

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