1 |The Desire to Read and The Matthew Effect

dear future me desire to read grow so hard journaling with high school students learn to read learn to write no desire to read overcoming struggles predictors of school success teaching teens to dream teaching teens to think teaching teens to want to write your biggest cheerleader Jun 29, 2021

Once when I was a young teen I cut my hair super short and I immediately regretted it. I felt naked. Like a baby bird. I ached so hard for my long hair. To get me through my teenage angst, I wrote myself a letter in my journal titled "Dear Future 2000 Me" that eventually became the backbone of my instruction as a high school English teacher for decades. The year 2000 seemed so far away in the early 80s. 2000!

It’s 2021 and I still insist my students answer simple questions in their fresh journals. Freely writing a letter to your future self isn’t as easy as it sounds. With almost thirty years of “Dear Future Me” letters in my possession, I’ve carved out self-motivation and inspiration for thousands of students one journal entry at a time. 


Click: >>Here’s one of my favorite "Dear Future Me" letters from 2021


Here’s an excerpt from my Dear Future 2000 Me letter:

Dear Dawn, 

Aim to grow so hard on the inside until your insides match the outsides. By the time your hair grows back, you’ll be a whole new Dawn. 


Dawn of 1984


Fast forward to whenever my heart's been broken, I planted sunflower SEEDS! And then I waited. While I waited I worked, carved, and crafted out the latest and greatest version of myself that I could muster.  What I learned is that seeds and hair grow faster when you nurture them. I also learned the landscape crew can yank your baby sunflower saplings like they are weeds both breaking your heart and making you laugh because starting all over is so a part of life! 


The truth is, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that we will all face unfathomable pain one day. None of us leaves unscathed.  


I often unwillingly equate my struggles in life with the quality and length of my damn hair. 


Much more recently, I chopped my hair the shortest it has ever been including some carved out one-inch neckline hairs. I knew I wouldn't like it. But I had lost so much and life felt very hard at the time. So I decided to chop, chop, chop. I decided to listen to my teenage self again and grow so hard on the inside until my insides match the outsides.


It worked! I am a brand new me. I know exactly who and what I aim to be. 


My hair is long and thick, my spine is strong, and my heart is open. It wasn’t easy work, but it was worthwhile work. So I ask you…


What and who do you want to be? 

What would it take for you to be willing to have me along on your journey? 

Please consider joining me LIVE on Thursdays at 1 pm during my Freely Reading podcast. Adding a podcast to my routine is a dream come true. 

You can also participate by joining me at JoinPD.com and then enter the asynchronous code: nlz dum

Your biggest cheerleader,

☀️Dawn ☀️

About the Podcast:

Founder of Freely Reading and college of education professor Dawn Goldstein asks essential questions: why does literacy matter, how do we wake up learners to their full potential, and how do we move forward post-pandemic without returning our factory style of education.

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