Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

I joined Twitter in June of 2009. I remember joining on a whim, not really thinking anything about it. It was right around when Ashton Kutcher had bet Ted Turner that he could beat CNN in the race to a million followers. Ashton won and now has over fifteen million followers, CNN just over eleven million. Not sure what this says about our society.

And yet, I joined. A teacher in my area said that Twitter was excellent professional development. I logged on, started following that teacher, the teachers she followed, some authors, some tech folks, and I waited. Slowly, I began sending tweets. I became online friends with some of the folks I met. I grew as a teacher. I found my tribe.

It is not a flippant remark to say that Twitter has changed my life. Because of it I have traveled to national conferences, presented at those, began a blog, became published, began the dream of a book, and met some of my closest friends. Even knowing all of that, I am still floored on a regular basis by my Twitter community.

Yesterday I found out that a friend will begin teaching in a middle school classroom after Christmas break. I was beyond excited to learn this, but wondered how I could possibly help her out. When I started thinking about it, I realized she wouldn’t have much of a classroom library, if there was even one at all. I started scanning my shelves of my bedroom for YA books I loved, but don’t need to keep. It wasn’t much, but I got a small stack started. Then I thought of my twitter friends and sent out this tweet:

I didn’t expect much, but I knew many of us were just at NCTE. Sometimes I grab some YA ARCs and read them, but then pass them on to others since they can’t go into my classroom. I figured if anyone else did the same, maybe I could grab a few books from a couple of friends and send those to her too. Within minutes of my posting the tweet, author CA London sent me this one:

And on it went. So many people have messaged me, so many more will. I am humbled and grateful. I knew my friends would likely send a book, but folks I’ve never met beyond the world of Twitter messaged. I am grateful for my friend, for her students, and just for myself. This past week I saw some ugliness on Facebook, folks being mean to be mean. I despaired for our world. Yesterday and today have served to remind me that there is so much kindness, so much goodness out there. You just have to decide where to focus. I choose kind.

Happy Holidays!