Hero #sol 18
March 4, 2018
Today’s writing challenge: write about a hero, someone who has changed your life. I watched some of the PBS videos on We’ll Meet Again. Inspiring… truly. They aren’t my hero story.
My hero didn’t rescue me from Mt. St. Helens or an earthquake. In fact, my hero doesn’t know my name. She couldn’t pick me out in a crowd. In the last eight years, we have spoke to each other four or five times. The longest exchange was yesterday. We spoke for about ten minutes. She gave me her full attention. She asked me what was going on in my school. And then she moved on to the very important work she had to do.
I wanted to ask her for a photograph together. I have thought that every time I’ve seen her for these six-seven years. I am not sure why, but I can’t ask her for that. If I had one, it would be on my desk and perhaps on my phone because this one singular woman has changed my life.
If you read my blog or know me personally or were in the crowd at Riverside Church with me yesterday, you already know who I mean. Lucy Calkins. I contemplated writing in all caps or a different color or some other way to type in a way that I say it.
Sixish years ago, my friend MaryLynne, convinced me to get up at 3:00 am, drive to New York (235 miles give or take) and spend the day with 3,000 other educators shuffling around at Columbia, eating a bag lunch, furiously taking notes, and trying to slip into our consciousness the utter brilliance that is the thinking, speaking, acting, existing that is the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project only to process the 200 miles home arriving after 8 pm. MaryLynne was already aware, she had attended. She knew the project members and the buildings and New York.
Back to Lucy. I know, shouldn’t I call her Dr. Calkins or something? All of us seem to call her Lucy. Lucy’s words, her colleagues, the people she draws together, the books she’s inspired, the speakers I’ve met that have worked with her, all have come together to inform my current practice as a literacy coach. Her reach is amazing and all of it is grounded in a simple and profound place.
Yesterday I wrote down just three lines in her twenty minute speech.
Intimacy is when someone listens to your writing.
Love is when the difference between giving and taking is as little as it can be (Siddhartha)
It’s the personal that matters.
I am certain that Lucy Calkins and I will never have a personal relationship. However, her sharing of her beliefs, the path she choice, the words she speaks and writes, will be a part of all of my coaching and my teaching. I know she knew that in those moments we spoke yesterday. I know that she doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.
So Mrs. Calkins, how is it going in my school community? What I should have said is that it’s growing exponentially because you took an interest in growing my practice, in encouraging me to help others grow their practice, to care about the personal.
Today, day 4 of the 31 day Slice of Life Writing Challenge, thank you to all of the bloggers and readers and learners and writers that fuel my learning because it’s through writing that I explore my thinking. It’s through writing that I think about teaching writing. When I become a writer, I join a community. Here’s to the writing community created by Two Writing Teachers.