Today is a bitter-sweet one.
After seven amazing, life altering, brain-growing, intensive years with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, today I now begin my next chapter as a full time author, speaker, and private consultant for schools, districts, and organizations around the world.
I recall one June day when, as a literacy coach, I attended a “coaching week” at Teachers College. Just before one session was about to begin, education superhero Mary Ehrenworth sat down across from me. She asked how the week had been going so far and then said, “Chris, have you ever thought about working at the Project?” My heart began racing. Not in the figurative sense. In the literal I-felt-I-could-pass-out-from-blood-rushing-through-my-veins sense. What followed were years of some of the greatest learning, both intellectually and personally, I have ever experienced.
The bitter of the bitter-sweet is that I am leaving the day-to-day close community of my colleagues, it is a gift to learn alongside each person in the organization, each working their absolute hardest to be their absolute best. It is a collection of educators working so intensely and so thoughtfully with such a high esteem for the education profession and all learners, adult and child. I am continually astounded by Lucy Calkins’ fearless, visionary leadership and her biggest lesson that no matter which way the winds may blow, even in the darkest of times, educators will always aim for what is best when they hold students in their heart, eyes, and minds. I felt, and continue to feel, that the work of the Project is some of not only the most rigorous around (for both students and educators) but that it is also some of the most deeply moving. Each day, in every grade level, around the world, teachers tell their students: “You life is worth writing about. Your ideas are worth sharing. Your voice matters in this classroom–and everywhere.” All the Project does is built upon that deeply rooted belief.
The sweet of the bitter-sweet is that this new step is scary.
Yes, I mean that. I think life is for risk taking and when we choose our risks with the best of intentions then the world opens up to us. The best intentions for me, first and foremost, is that I will have more quality time with my young family. Staff development and writing and speaking and social media are each full time jobs in their own right. I am taking this step to help me readjust and be more present. I am also interested to see what new challenges lie ahead, what untrodden paths to discover and what new adventures to take on.
I am grateful to how reaffirming you all have been. My colleagues at the Project have been generous with their time, ears, and ideas in supporting me in this transition–I look forward to remaining close friends in minds and hearts. I continue to be honored by new requests for speaking engagements, for guest articles and posts, by tweets and repins and the like. I am pleased to be invited to partner with schools on their literacy journey this school year, I couldn’t live my life without working with students and teachers in classrooms and I am grateful to be welcomed in.
Every new day begins with rubbing your eyes, sitting up, swinging your sleep-heavy legs out of bed, and then one step. I’m looking forward to seeing where my feet take me. Thanks to all of you for going this journey with me.