As stated before, I recently met some pretty amazing people. I had read reviews, books, and articles related to these women and I had formed my impressions based on all of these things. I admired them greatly, but didn't think of them as "real" people. I didn't recognize the sense of humor or the genuine kindness. With each one I had carried their books around in my pocket or bag, devouring the contents and bringing it back to my classroom. Then they stepped off the bus and into my life last Thursday morning....
I actually met Franki for the very first time last summer when I attended a conference in Ohio. I remember scribbling notes as fast as I could during her session. I was writing names of friends and family members next to the books she described so I could share them. I remember thinking about my classroom library and I even approached her after the session (where I found her reading Kathy Collins' new book, Reading for Real) to ask some questions about the classroom library. This visit was even more meaningful because Franki invested in this conference the moment she was contacted by our school district. She was instrumental in bridging many of the details. Her session was spectacular. My only wish was that there would’ve been time in the day for me to attend both of her sessions, primary and intermediate. She also has created a time consuming addiction for me with her App a Day for the summer. She inspired me to start this blog when she suggested I start writing about my thoughts related to literacy. I am looking forward to seeing her when I attend the Dublin conference next year.
Years ago when Debbie’s book, Reading with Meaning, was brand new a friend told me about it and I read it. It was my first exposure to the workshop model for reading instruction. I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed. I took some of the simpler strategies and applied them, but the book remained tucked on my shelf until a few years later when I began to organize and plan the reader’s workshop for my classroom.
I had put Debbie on a pedestal and I felt that she would be unapproachable. She is so brilliant, I felt that it would be difficult to relate to her on a personal level.
BOY WAS I WRONG. Before the first keynote I was assisting the speakers in the set-up in the rooms for their breakout sessions. Debbie was working to get her document projector up and running. While we were waiting for tech support I saw her preparing and spoke to her briefly. I saw the warmth immediately. Then after her break out session I approached her to sign my book. I share some thoughts and ideas with her and she said, “You should write a book.” Can you imagine? I was so touched at her genuine interest and her kindness. As you know, I am now reading her book Teacher with Intention. As I am reading I feel that my perspective is now colored my interactions with her-I can hear her sweet, small voice as I am reading.
Two years ago I was returning to the classroom after a year long maternity leave. I was researching and developing ideas quickly to prepare for my return. Growing Readers was a book someone suggested. I followed this book to a T. I read it and then I would reread it. I talked about it with colleagues and in online forums. I was obsessed, to put it lightly. Last June, a week before it was available, I purchased Reading for Real. This year I started to do reading partnerships with the first graders in my class. It is a book that I have on my list to read again this summer. The session with Kathy has inspired me to go deeper and develop the partnerships even further.
Might I add that Kathy is one of the funniest people I have ever met! She made my cheeks hurt from laughter. Her wit and dry sense of humor kept the crowd engaged and wanting more. I am looking for opportunities to see and learn from Kathy again soon.
Stay tuned for my impressions of the other 3 fabulous speakers....