Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Encouraging Words

Can I get a show of hands? How many of you have ever felt lost? Ever felt yourself drowning  in number two pencils and bubble sheets?   Lost in your lesson plans or lost in your unit goals or lost staring into the filing cabinet like it's a refrigerator and you're starving?

Lost. Disheartened. Defeated. I've had those days. All of us who teach have had them. We question ourselves, our work, our purpose. We question whether we matter.

Angela Meirs would tells us: You Matter. And you do. I do too. We all do. We matter every single day we get up and do our best by the students we teach. Even when our best means we're still learning, we're still figuring it out.

Still, that sly fox, doubt, sneaks around behind us and nips our heel.

It seems whenever that sly fox fixes his sights on me, encouragement finds me. He clears his throat to get my attention. Sometimes He is soft spoken: a shy smile, a whisper, a line in a book, a Word. If I don't hear him He gets louder. He tends to repeat himself until I get the message. He's spoken to me at school, in grocery stores,  restaurants, and parking lots.  He's speaks words or blue skies or sunrise.  I will be lost, then suddenly, I see. I  hear: "Miss! Ms. Spillane... remember me? I remember you..."

Conversations ensue. Laughter follows. Spirits lift.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a shout of encouragement coming from the stage at Carnegie Hall. Did that really happen?

You never know what students are thinking or what they will remember or what they will one day say--in public, at a sold-out show, in front of their parents, their families, famous writers and thousands of Nerdfighters.


So, Hank Green, about whom I've written here, here and in my recent book Reading Amplified, thank you. Thank you for your encouragement last night. But I know it's really not about me. And it's not really about teachers and crushes and whatnots. The story is bigger than that.

It's a love story. They fall for the world and in the falling others are caught up. It's a story of how two brothers came to be all-in. And how two brothers are able to walk with hope and conviction into an uncertain future seeding love in a community that is changing the world.

It brings tears to my eyes, but it has a happy ending. It is absolutely joyous to see and to share in.
Thanks, Hank.


  1. I completely understand those days and the feeling of validation you can get from former students. I gasped out loud when I heard Hank say your name, and then smiled. Very cool!

  2. This was beautiful and I teared up a little. Make sure Hank sees this.