Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Journey Begins

This marks the seventh year for Literacy Journey. Literacy Journey is our county-wide professional development program for middle school English teachers. I'm honored to be one of the facilitators and coaches. Each year we guide a new group of teachers through their journey of being readers and writers alongside their students. 
If you're a teacher reading this, you know how precious each moment is before the students arrive. This time is spent planning and preparing and making sure we are ready for our kids. Taking any of this time for any kind of training is stressful. We work hard to make sure the time spent with us in Literacy Journey is valuable and worthwhile.

Beginning year seven feels good. We've revised this training each year with feedback from teachers and it feels like we are finally in a groove. We welcomed almost fifty middle school teachers to our introduction to Literacy Journey first thing Monday morning. Watching these teachers walk into the classroom, many were tired and suspicious. I know they were thinking, "Is this going to be worth it? Will it be a waste of my time? I wish I were back in my classroom!" Those are natural thoughts and our job as facilitators is to change their minds.

Three hours later...mission accomplished! We spent some time reading together and writing together. We visited different classroom environments and shared our own secrets to creating a welcoming space. We began to connect and develop relationships. We listened to each other. 

As the teachers left, they were standing tall and smiling. One teacher stopped and thanked me. She said, "I needed this reminder...this inspiration to begin the school year. Thank you!" What she doesn't realize it the inspiration came from the teachers in the room. We facilitated. We will be there to coach and support, but they did it. These teachers showed up in all kinds of ways. They shared themselves with us. It was an honor to witness. 

I shared two poems about journeys with the teachers. Mary Oliver's poem, The Journey and a poem that was new to me from an amazing poet, Nikki Giovanni, called A Journey. I share that one here with you now. Wherever you are on your journey, may it be a good one...

It’s a journey . . . that I propose . . . I am not the guide . . . nor technical assistant . . . I will be your fellow passenger . . .
Though the rail has been ridden . . . winter clouds cover . . . autumn’s exuberant quilt . . . we must provide our own guide-posts . . .
I have heard . . . from previous visitors . . . the road washes out sometimes . . . and passengers are compelled . . . to continue groping . . . or turn back . . . I am not afraid . . .
I am not afraid . . . of rough spots . . . or lonely times . . . I don’t fear . . . the success of this endeavor . . . I am Ra . . . in a space . . . not to be discovered . . . but invented . . .
I promise you nothing . . . I accept your promise . . . of the same we are simply riding . . . a wave . . . that may carry . . . or crash . . . It’s a journey . . . and I want . . . to go . . .
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.


  1. Truth, that we are skeptical of pre-service training when there is so much to do! Thank you for inspiring your teachers and lending a spark to their instruction. Thanks also for the poem. The school year is a journey, and we don't necessarily have to have everything figured out on day one.

  2. Those MS teachers are lucky to crossed path with YOU on their journey! I feel lucky, too. I officially start tomorrow but got a peek into my classroom. I took a photo as the "BEFORE". And then I immediately thought, what can I do so it looks cosy and welcoming like Michelle's room? Know that YOU are guiding not just teachers in LCPS. Thank you. Have a GREAT year!! I plan to stay in touch because I'm along for the ride!!

  3. Thanks for the journey poems. I begin a new PD series with a group of teachers in late September. Full team sessions and then I'll be visiting classrooms and documenting and creating videos of their teaching and reflecting.... Thanks for your inspiration...

  4. What a gift! You get quite the turn out of teachers. I love this idea of truly getting teachers inspired. It is a journey!

  5. Lucky teachers to start the year with an instant recharge and a dedication to their profession! Your classroom looks great with learners in it!

  6. I echo the comments of lucky teachers!! Thanks for this uplifting post and the poetry you shared.

  7. Lucky teachers, indeed! We raise each other up to do the work we do, don't we?


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