Slice of Life Challenge day 20 #sol17

Something I heard on the subway the other day made the hair on the back of my neck stand up a little…

Title: “Gratitude, anyone?”

“Yeah, 20 minutes in, I was like, ‘snooze time.'” It was a fairly crowded downtown subway car, but the male voice seemed unnecessarily loud.

“She was trying to be funny, but she so wasn’t,” came another voice, a female’s. Wait a minute, are they talking about TC Reunion? It was late Saturday afternoon, and following an amazing day of learning at Teachers College, I was traveling downtown Manhattan to meet up with my family. Incredulous, I turned my full attention toward the small group of what I now guessed were educators huddled on the subway car.

“Finally after, like, half an hour, she got to the topic,” sneered the male voice. The others in the group contributed a mocking chuckle.

For those unfamiar with a TC Saturday Reunion, it is a gift that Lucy Calkins, Director of the world-renowned Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and all the staff developers, office staff, writing staff, and tech staff, give to educators. There is no cost for any teacher to attend. It is a free day professional development, with sessions led by world class keynote speakers and the finest minds in literacy, all in the spirit of supporting the international cause of literacy.

As I quietly sat and listened to the conversation devoted to cutting down a staff developer, a person by the way who had just donated her entire Saturday to play her part in bestowing an invaluable gift upon any teacher who showed up, I began to seethe a little. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck standing up a little bit.  But I knew the next stop on the subway was mine, so I resolved to let it go for that moment.  However, the audacity of some people! It was a disgrace, I thought.

It is my hope that in this blog post I am able to make clear not only my appreciation, but the collective gratitude for Lucy and all of the TC staff for the gift of Saturday’s Reunion. It truly was a golden bestowal upon the education community.

Perhaps the group on the subway that afternoon had some reason that would explain their abhorrent behavior, I don’t know.  But I was reminded of the importance of gratitude, and recognizing how working to understand perspectives other than our own is such important work. For all of us.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 20 #sol17”

  1. Hmmmm … might it be mistaken assumptions? Sounds like you were pretty sure. Well, I agree that showing gratitude for such generosity is warranted. But not much you could do, unless you wanted it to be some huge confrontation. Maybe writing about it was the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes thank you for that. Part of what I tried to hint at toward the end is perspective taking and trying to understand others’ ways of thinking is for me, too. Not just everyone else. But it did bother me, and I think you’re right- writing about it was better than a confrontation. Thanks so much.


  2. I so value the time and talent and effort that the staff puts into that wonderful day. We once took a bus load of teachers down to NYC for the reunion and a few teachers were blocked out of the one session they were looking forward to seeing. They moaned about it all the way home and into the next week, making it hard for those who didn’t go to get excited about attending the next time. I was so saddened by their negativity. Like you I found it hard to remain silent but I closed my mouth to them and spoke positively about the day as often as I could. It is hard to take that stance when getting knocked down. Bravo to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your story reminded me of a young 2nd year colleague at my school. We are using both the UoS for reading and writing this year for the first time at my school. At a morning PD about writing, she mentioned/complained that she wished there were more videos to watch. I looked at her in amazement. She doesn’t even get what has been given to her – 4 units richly written in writing and another 4 for reading specific to her grade, plus so many online resources! I was assertive and reminded her that the project is not in the business of making videos. They kindly did make some and they share everything they do. And they…I went on and on for a bit. She listened to my perspective of recalling when it was just the K-2 writing kit and how much the project has produced in the past 20 years. They are a gift and we should indeed be grateful for all they share. And when it seems fitting, we can speak up because not all understand what a gift the project is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heartily agree! I wonder if there weren’t “so much” in the kits, the complaint would be there’s “not enough?” Kudos to you for providing an alternate perspective for your colleague!


  4. Hard to hear when you know folks have worked to hard! This sounds like a great day and I so wish I did not live so far away. It would be wonderful to experience. Hope you writing helped you to let it go.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Lanny, I can so relate to this post. It’s so hard for visitors to really comprehend what goes on behind the scenes at TCRWP. It’s hard for visitors to have empathy for TCRWP presenters when they don’t really have an understanding of what it’s like to walk in those shoes – to donate time, present on a topic for just under an hour to a room full of total strangers, multiple times in a day, sometimes literally running to present one session to the next, all in the midst of week upon week of breakneck pace work. It isn’t the visitors’ fault really. They just don’t understand. Also, I think it’s human/adult/New Yorker nature to complain as a form of conversation, unfortunately. Thank you for writing this post to highlight the hard work of our amazing TCRWP colleagues!

    Liked by 1 person

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