Monday, May 21, 2012


To all who need this, may my words echo sincerity and strike true.


Confidence plays such a huge role in our work, and yet I feel too many of us don't feel like they have something to contribute. I sincerely hope that you don't feel this way, but if you do, then I hope you will find comfort in my cadence, support in my words, and understanding in the spaces between.

Do not ever feel like you don't have anything to offer.

Do not ever feel like what you're doing in your space isn't something others would find useful or inspiring.

Do not ever feel like you need to be any more than what you are, and know that what you are is already something incredible.

Do not ever find your work unremarkable.

Do not ever feel like what you do is not enough.

As someone who struggles constantly with feelings of low self-worth, isolation, and a strong sense of self-doubt, I can say without question that what you're doing in your space is creating ripples. Those ripples may not always be detected the way you hoped, but that does not make them any less significant.

Ripples are proof of life. They're a reminder that what you do or make or say or think extends from you to reach others. Sometimes we try to prevent this, but often it's exactly what we need. It's the validation that our voice is heard and, more importantly, that it matters.

As much as we need to see those ripples, most of us are afraid of what will happen when they reach someone else. Personally, I'm deathly afraid of rejection, so the very idea of sending something I've created out into the world where it could be battered, dismissed, mocked, criticized, or, the very worst, ignored is something rather terrifying to face regularly.

But what good is an idea if not shared with others? And not just with the little others that we see in our space day in and day out, but the like-minded others we meet in our districts, at our conferences, in the neighborhood, and via our social media outlets. That single good idea gets better when shared. It grows wings. Someone hears it and tries it out in their own space. Someone is inspired by it, and adapts it to meet their unique needs. Someone thinks it's too good to hold onto, so they share it with their friends who share it with their friends. Or, most importantly, you communicate it and, in speaking the idea to life, you've given it ownership. In return, it will give you confidence if you're willing to accept it.

You have so much to offer. Believe me, you do.

Remember that amazing lesson you did that the kids still talk about? Remember the resources you located for that teacher with what first seemed like an impossible request? Remember that thing you tried out that made your job just a tiny bit easier (or at least more manageable)? Remember that other thing you did that reminded you why you love this profession? Remember the event you thought about for weeks? Remember the way you gave your library a voice and shared it with someone who needed to hear it? Remember that thing that child said that stuck with you all week?

There are people that would love to hear your ideas, myself included.

We know you're busy and we don't want this to feel like another thing. That's why we want you to share something that really matters to you.

It's time we start Sharing the Shelves.

I've been promoting this resource recently because I think it could be a really nice space for all of us to connect. I know that it can be very difficult to find an audience for your thoughts, but I also know that finding the right audience can have a profound affect on your willingness to share and your confidence that what you share is heard and valued.

Check out the About This Blog page and consider if this might be the right venue for you to test out your thoughts. You can post anonymously (by having one of the members post your text) or you can become a member and post at your leisure. Send an email to Jo Nase of The Book Bug blog and let her know you want in.

I can't promise you internet prestige or Twitter stalking, but I know that the community can grow and become like a home with the help of a few more caring individuals. I wouldn't have invited you if I didn't think you'd care. And I certainly wouldn't have invited you if I didn't think you'd matter.

You do. Believe me.

I hope to see you there.


  1. So well said. I definitely have the same feelings and I think many of us do. What do I have to offer? All I can do is offer what I have and others feel free to use or not, but let's all do it in a spirit of positivity and support for each other!

    1. Rock on, Holly. It's a very isolating job, but one that doesn't have to be that way. So glad you can be a light to others!

  2. Excellent post! Thanks for encouraging those of us who usually lurk in blogland. :)

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Lewis. Your brave venture our into blogland has made substantial ripples. Keep sharing. We'll keep reading, I promise!

  3. Just what I needed to hear to start my day. Uplifting & affirming. I'll continue to do what I can to make ripples in the Mad River ... and beyond.

    Thanks Matthew.


    1. Meg, I'm glad it reached you. I'd love to learn about the amazing things you're doing at Mad River (what an amazing name, by the way)... any chance your school takes white water rafting field trips? :)

  4. Matthew, just found your blog. Thanks for sharing this very inspiring post. I'll be starting my third year next year and I feel like I am finally getting a handle on planning and what types of lessons my students need. Thank you for sharing so many great ideas.



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