As I flew home from the NCTE Convention last night, my mind was full of all I had learned over the past three days. I was also grateful that I had the chance to meet so many of my Slice of Life and Twitter friends. This online community is still a marvel to me. At one point, I glanced out the window and realized a large chunk of the eastern seaboard was spread out beneath me. Millions of lights clustered in cities and stretched into the distance, following roads that seemed to go on forever. They looked like a dew-drenched web, illuminated by the moon.
I was mesmerized by the sight, and my book lay forgotten on my lap. Kate DiCamillo’s words immediately came to mind: “Stories connect us.” The web of lights seemed like the perfect metaphor for the web of stories that were spun out by teachers, storytellers and poets throughout the vast Gaylord National Resort during the convention, connecting educators from all over the country and around the world. These dedicated people had all come to Washington seeking ways to help their students learn.
In his new book, Minds Made For Stories (Heinemann, 2014), Tom Newkirk says “When we strip human motives from our teaching, I suspect we make learning harder, not easier.” (p. 17) The stories shared at NCTE were full of the very human motives of passion and curiosity, and it will take me weeks to sort out and internalize them. Inspired and enlightened by people I admire and feel so lucky to know, I went to school today with one goal in mind: to share this passion with my students and colleagues. I can’t wait to help them, in the words of Paul Hankins, “be wonder bound.” I can’t wait to see them deepen their connections with the world and find their stories.
Thank you, Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.