Somewhere in my education, I was taught to let others speak before me I was taught to wait my turn. To eat my words if that turn never came. I was taught to listen. To raise my hand. To share when asked. To give praise to others but downplay my own achievements. I was taught to be a good girl, someone who sat still, said “please” and “thank you” and always offered to help, even if it meant sacrificing my own creativity.
Somewhere in my education, I was taught to plan lessons for fictitious children that would make my classroom look like a mini UN with a smattering of acronyms. That came to us fed. That came to us with clean clothes and new supplies and unshattered dreams. That came to us believing that school was still about them and what they had to say had value. Who loved to read, to write, to discover, and all I had to do was preserve that notion of loving literacy. That those who needed more than what I could offer would always get it in some way.
Somewhere in my education, I was taught who the leaders were and to follow their ideas, for they had paved the path and certainly knew more than I ever would. In that same education, I was taught the research I needed to be better, and so I grew, but I was never taught to trust myself. I was never taught to seek more than just what was presented to me. I was never taught to see myself as a leader because good girls don’t lead, they follow.
But within this age of literacy where we fight to keep our students reading, where we have to know our research before others tell us what best practices are, we are all leaders. We are all of importance. Our ideas matter because our ideas change the way students feel about the very act of reading or writing. What we do now will not end with us today, but instead will live on in the lives of the students we teach. So we are leaders when it comes to the very ideas that shape the literacy identity our students have. Our words carry weight. Our words can harm or protect, so we must believe that our words have value.
So I hope today, that you will look in the mirror and tell yourself that your words should be heard. That your words deserve a larger audience than just you. That your ideas are worth spreading, even if no one asked you to. That when you change a student’s perception of what literacy means that whatever you just did then needs to be shared. That you can be a leader, that you probably already are.
Somewhere in my education I found my voice. I found my brave. I found my driving force, which will always be the students. Somewhere in my education I found out I could be a leader, even though no one told me so. Perhaps it is time for others to find the same.
This post is a part of the Age of Literacy that ILA encourages all of us to participate in on APril April 14th. How are you a literacy leader? If you are wondering why there seems to be a common thread to so many of my posts as of late, it is because I am working on two separate literacy books. While the task is daunting and intimidating, it is incredible to once again get to share the phenomenal words of my students as they push me to be a better teacher. Those books will be published in 2017 hopefully, so until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.