On Saturday…nine teachers (including me) from my school journeyed across our state and into neighboring New Hampshire to spend the morning and afternoon with Lester Laminack. We did so because a friend from another district told me he is one of the best speakers she has ever heard (and she has heard many). When I conveyed that information to my teaching friends, we took the long drive of faith.
With no PowerPoint, handouts, or overheads; Lester captivated his audience for the two hours before lunch and the two hours after lunch. He shared his six year old impersonations, his passion for writing and reading, and his personal pilgrimage for acceptance. The audience laughed at his antics, misted over his memories, and consumed the books he read as if we were being exposed to reading for the very first time.
With a simple question, “When did hand raising begin?”, he wove his entire presentation in and out…to and fro…like tidal waters coming and going but always returning to the theme. Lester wanted us to think about why we do the things we do in our classrooms. Do we do them because we were taught that way? Do we do them because they are best educational practice? Why do we so often ask children to only speak when called upon? What is the art of conversation? How can we have conversation in a civil way without begging to be called upon? How can we better listen to the speaker and then add to that speaker’s thoughts?
Lester Laminack is a class act. I hope he continues to traverse the country and spread his words like butter on warm toast. He does so with intellect, passion, and purpose. He wants our youth to grow up rich in literature, spilling with language, and penning the thoughts that pour out of them. If you have not seen him speak, find him and go. If you have seen him speak and you are as impressed as I am, I bet you will seek him out again.