NEATE 2008 Fall Conference · presentations · RIWP · writing workshop

The Essence of Workshop Teaching

I woke up early this morning and decided to get started on the PPT for my presentation at the 2008 Fall NEATE Conference in Nashua, NH. The title is, “INSPIRING CHILDREN TO WRITE: Teaching Writing Workshop with Our Notebooks Wide-Open,” which is very similar to the title I used when I presented at the RIWP‘s Spring 2008 Conference. (Click here to view that presentation.) However, as I began working on the NEATE Presentation, a quote from Avi kept popping up in my head. I think it’s at the heart of what we do as writing teachers in Workshop classrooms where we meet with kids, read their notebooks with empathy, and work to help each child as a writer (not by simply trying to help a piece of writing). The quote from Avi is:

“If you want to teach me to write, then first you must love me.”

Therefore, as I find myself trying to explain the action research I did at Teachers College in a short PowerPoint Presentation, I think that quote by Avi is truly at the heart of what I’m trying to say. If we don’t deeply care about each of our students (i.e., the struggles they face as individuals, the issues they deal with at home, the heartache they’ve often endured by the tender age of nine), then it’s not possible to help them grow as writers since they won’t be writing the Truth of their lives when they crack open their notebooks in our Worskhops each and every day.

So for now, I’m stepping away from my computer to ponder Avi’s quote and mine before I turn back to my presentation since I don’t want to simply regurgitate what I put forth in March when I presented at the RIWP. I think keeping both of them in mind as I think about what it really means to inspire children to write will be helpful.

Here are both of those quotes again:

  • “If you want to teach me to write, then first you must love me.” –Avi
  • “If we don’t write the Truth, then our writing is pointless and without meaning.” –Me