This quote from Penny’s book spoke to me today:
“Writers don’t need to be given formulas; they need to be shown possibilities.” — Barry Lane
I’ve been thinking about this. So often, in the name of modeling, I think we give students a formula for writing as opposed to showing them possibilities. It’s a fine line between showing possibilities and insisting on a formula. Here is some of my initial thinking on the ways we can ensure we are offering possibilities to our writers.
- Follow Penny Kittle’s advice and “Write Beside Them,” while at the same time share the process and choices we are making as writers. I must be vigilant in writing myself.
- Recognize that just because a structure works for us, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. There are unlimited possibilities for the way a story could be written. I need to be intentional about opening these doors for my students (and myself).
- Ask students to Just give it a whirl and see if it works. Encourage them to abandon any strategies that aren’t working for them as a writer. I need to be sensitive to each individual.
I believe this is a state of mind when it comes to teaching young writers. It’s about letting go of what we think is right when it comes to writing and embracing the process that each individual writer is forging. It’s about observing what works not just for ourselves, but for the young writers in the classroom and then encouraging others in the classroom to try the same things. It’s about being open and honest about our successes and frustrations as writers with our students.
Maybe that’s the key — being writers ourselves and open to the unexpected twists and turns the writing can take us; thus creating the kind of atmosphere our students need to do the same thing.
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.