#sol15: March 16, 2015 – Congratulations, Nancie Atwell!

Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!

Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!

The bright spot of my Sunday was the moment the news was posted that Nancie Atwell, my teaching hero, had won the Global Teacher Prize (the “Nobel Prize of Teaching”)  in Dubai.  I listened to her gracious acceptance speech, and copied down a bit of what she had to say in my writer’s notebook:

“I’ve learned, and am still learning, how to make a school a place of happiness and wisdom for my students and myself.  I love the challenges. I love my teaching life….I hope to convey to young people considering the teaching life that it is a privilege to develop relationships with children, to develop methods that transform their lives, to give them perspectives of the lives of others around the globe and to be of use in this robust and nurturing way…. I am grateful to the Varkey Foundation for shining a light on teaching as a powerful profession, one of creativity, lasting worth, wisdom, and happiness…”

I remember  discovering a copy of  Nancie’s book In The Middle  at the Strand Bookstore in New York City one rainy day.  I had just begun the process of figuring out my second career, now that my three children were in school all day and I knew that I wanted to be back working again.  I was drawn to the book first because my oldest had just entered middle school and I wanted to know a bit more about these heretofore uncharted waters; but, as I read on, I came to realize that this is what I wanted to spend my days doing, being “In The Middle”.

The book became the  foundation upon which I’ve built my teaching practices, and it was a glorious day when I found myself in a workshop being led by Nancie, who was kind enough to sign my now tattered and much used copy of In The Middle:



Sunday was exciting day for Nancie, and for teachers everywhere – how lucky we are to have mentors like her to continue to inspire us to do the important work we do.



26 thoughts on “#sol15: March 16, 2015 – Congratulations, Nancie Atwell!

  1. Thank you for capturing her words. Like you I found that book looking for a second career. I ended up just at the beginning of the middle. These words “I’ve learned, and am still learning” make me love her all the more.

  2. I so agree. It was fun to follow the chatter and anticipation on Twitter and then to finally hear the news. We will as a nation find our way again. Maybe she will be the one to inspire our leaders away from this very dark time.

  3. I too am very grateful for her ideas and their influence on my teaching life. She really has been a pioneer in thinking about learning; however, I appreciate that she sees the hard stuff as challenges. I too love the challenges and love my teaching life. PS I also wrote a post about Nancy last night and could hardly wait to post it this morning!

  4. Nancie Atwell is a teaching hero of mine!!! I wish this story made the national news!!! Amazing teachers, like Nancie, are working hard to make schools safe and wonderful. I’m so excited she won this award! Thank you for sharing the words from her speech! Uplifting!!

  5. I too consider her as a mentor though I’ve only met her two or three times in person. She signed my copy of ITM at my first NCTE in 1989 and I was lucky enough to meet her daughter Anne who’s taken over her classroom now at the last one. How lucky is that.

  6. Wonderful! May we continue to be challneged and changed by teacher like Nancy! Bookmarked to listen to her speech a bit later!

  7. Oh my gosh, I jumped for joy when I read that she had won. She is from Maine and I have always wanted to visit the school she started. She is my champion too. I taught middle school for three years, but when I moved I couldn’t find a job in middle school. I still miss it.

  8. We used “In the Middle” as one of our required readings when I went through our Writing Project’s Summer Institute. It really changed how I approached things. It stayed on my shelf until I retired and now I have it at home with me.

  9. And I too discovered In The Middle as I was returning to teaching. What a wondrous gift she gave/has given to all of us. I have an index box filled with notes I took from that book. What a joyous thing for her to win this award-well-deserved.

  10. I agree! So many of us were thrilled when we heard she had won because we have our own stories about how she’s influenced our teaching. What an amazing legacy she is still creating! This slice gives me an idea for another thing I know for sure…;-)

  11. I was thinking of you and your hero as I was watching the Twitter feed from yesterday’s event. My gosh, that award is so well-deserved for Nancie. She’s touched so many lives (students and other educators) through her incredible work.

  12. This is a personal, thoughtful tribute to one who has influenced so many others as well. Her award is well deserved! I am so thankful for those like Nancie who have taken the time to show me the way.

  13. I love that inscription! I imagine that an author of professional books would love to see her work well-used, marked up and filled with sticky notes!

  14. I was thrilled to attend an Atwell workshop with a colleague in Atlanta quite a few years ago. I sat behind Nancie in November at an NCTE session, and finally screwed up the courage to tap her on the shoulder and thank her for the influence she’s had on my teaching life. Love that this giant in our field was recognized. Thanks for this lovely slice.

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