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.