art · big picture · writing workshop

The Power of Writing

Today, as students were coming into the building and teachers were greeting them, I witnessed the following interaction in the first grade hallway:

A little girl stops in front of her teacher and extends a homemade card. The teacher stoops to the little girl’s level and lavishly praises her beautiful card. The little girl remains silent, shy. The teacher opens the card and reads:

Der Mrs. Ror,

I’m sre for treting you tha way. Will you forgev me? Love, Hannah

The teacher hugs the little girl tight and whispers, “We all make mistakes, it’s okay. I care about you even when you make mistakes. Yes I’ll forgive you.”

And this momma is moved to tears.

The teacher mistakenly believes that I’m upset about the little girl’s behavior and says, “Don’t worry, all of our kids make mistakes.”

I unsuccessfully bat back tears, attempting to keep a bit of composure. How can I tell her that I’m overwhelmed by the grace she just extended to the little girl? How can I tell her that I’m touched by the way she cares more about the little girl than her uncoventional spelling? Most importantly, how can I tell her that I’m not upset over the little girl’s mistakes, but touched by the beauty of her soul?

It was the little girl’s choice to make a card. It was the little girl’s fingers which glued the buttons and drew the flower leaves. It was the little girl who chose the words; the little girl who painstakingly took the time to decide about ending punctuation. All because she wanted to make things right from yesterday.

She chose to write to make things better. She’s six and has learned the power of the written word.  The challenge now is to help her always remember this power.

She inspires me to write today in order to make sense of events, in order to understand my feelings, in order to make the world a better place.

May our students also learn the power of writing. Let’s give them as many authentic experiences as possible.

12 thoughts on “The Power of Writing

  1. Thank you for this post. It lifted my spirits today. It was just such a teacher, many years ago, when I was in sixth grade, who kept me writing. Now, as a teacher, I see and appreciate the beauty in my student’s efforts to express themselves. Over my long career many of my students have moved away, but their words have remained with me as have their cards and letters. On those difficult days, I open the lid of the box where i keep my treasures and I read them. They always bring tears, and smiles. The mispelled words only emphasize the sincerity of the message.


  2. That’s such a touching story. By being compassionate, the teacher has shown the little girl how meaningful it is to take the time to make a card to express her feelings. Little children and adults always know when someone is sincere.


  3. Ruth-
    What a beautiful story! It made me cry!

    Your story reminded me of a quote in Penny Kittle’s new book, WRITE BESIDE THEM:

    “What is writing for? What do we teach and why? It can’t be only for next year– or college– or the April test. Sometimes it is for now: a path through dark days. We teach life writing, not school writing, life writing in all its complexities: the tools for the tasks we can’t anticipate. It is about this day– this lesson– what students can reach for that will matter– for the lives stretched out before them peppered with joy and loss.

    What power– what importance– lies in the blank lines of an open notebook.

    Go and fill yours.

    Then share.”

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful writing!


  4. Ruth: I’m not posting AT LEAST ’til Sunday… I want this to be the first thing anyone sees when they visit our blog.

    Thanks for sharing this moment with us. As someone who knows Hannah, it’s so touching to read. As a teacher, my heart melted when I saw her teacher’s response. The response every child wants.


    Thanks Ruth,


  5. Ruth,
    Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. When I was a child, I too, would write notes or letters to my mom and dad asking questions or apologizing for bad behavior. I would write the notes because I was too shy or embarrassed to say the words out loud. Later, as I got older, we would giggle about those letters. Now, as a mom, I absolutely cherish the letters and notes my sons have written to me over the years. The notes from my students are as precious as gold. Even if the words are few, there is a story, a memory, or a life lesson locked forever within the words. And I think of those words as a gift because the writer chose to write down his or her thoughts or experiences and then chose to share the words with me. Something you and Stacy practice everyday — I am grateful for the daily gifts you share!


Comments are closed.