Teacher Testimony: Christi Overman.

Today, Christi Overman spoke to the teachers in the Beginning Writing Workshop Training. A year ago, Christi occupied a seat in the workshop. At the time she thought she would be teaching kindergarten . . . a few days before school started, she learned she would be in first grade.

Along with the whirlwind grade level move, it would also be her first year teaching all day; her first year teaching language arts. Christi shared her journey and her attempt to completely embrace writing workshop. She decided that on day-one she would give it a good faith effort and she would keep it up the entire year. Christi’s goal was implementation of a true Writing Workshop.

What emerged was an incredible first grade workshop. Christi shared the frustration of things not going smoothly; the anxiety of finding the words to say in focus lessons; the importance of keeping her own writer’s notebook (even though her first grade students didn’t); and the joy of having colleagues and resources which guided her. Her advice was to stand on the shoulders of a curriculum set and to find a colleague to share the journey of writing workshop.

She ended with a reading of Walk On: A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee. I was moved by her candid recount of her year and the bravery it takes to jump in and try something new.

I was also impressed by her faithful effort to implement all of Writing Workshop — not just the parts she “liked.” I believe too often we, as teachers, just pull bits and pieces of things we like without giving something a chance in its entirety. In my opinion, this is why all Writing Workshops are not created equally. If you are new to workshop, I encourage you to follow Christi’s lead and jump in with both feet. Attempt to make your Writing Workshop as pure as possible and then watch as amazing learning happens.