Be a writer.

I was talking with a Spanish teacher today about a Webinar we both “attended.” She shared with me about how her paradigm shifted from giving worksheet after worksheet for students to complete to immersing them in the language.  She said it was difficult to change her paradigm, but she kept working at implementing her new instructional beliefs until it became second nature. When I asked how she kept working in spite of the difficulty, she responded:

I went to a workshop and experienced learning a language in this way.  I knew it worked because at the end of the day I knew more French than when I started. I wanted my students to have this same feeling of success and learning when they walk out of my classroom each day.  So even though it was tough at first, I stuck with it.

This made me think of the paradigm shift necessary for many teachers to accept the Writing Workshop philosophy. It seems the heart of changing our thinking is to experience the power of Writing Workshop. In order to experience it, we must be teachers who write, share our writing with others, and even take a leap to make our writing more public from time to time.

It seems too many teachers teach writing without writing themselves. I understand we are busy and have so-much-to-do. (Trust me, I understand — I work full-time, drive a bit over 70 miles each day, am a momma to three, and do the chores to keep a household running and organized (along with my sweet, supportive husband). This is just the start of my To-Do List.) Still, I find time to write.  Not just professionally, but personally too. This writing makes me a better teacher.

Although, in the spirit of true confessions, this isn’t the primary motivator for me to write. I write because it makes me a better person, a better mom, a better wife. I write to make sense of the world and understand things I didn’t understand before. I write to wrestle out ideas. I write to remember and not forget.

We have enough time in the day to do the things which really matter. If we want to write, we will. Here are ways I make space in my life in order to breathe life into words:

  • I keep a personal blog filled with stories, memories, misunderstandings, change, and insights. Just having an online place that tracks how often I post helps me write. There are many free places to set up blogs: WordPress and Blogger are the two I use.
  • I tuck notebooks into the nooks & crannies of my life: my car console; purse; laptop bag; makeup drawer; under my bed; on top of the dryer; and beside my cookbooks. I like the eclectic nature of collecting random bits when the mood strikes.
  • I keep a writer’s notebook much like I expect of my students. This travels with me throughout the day and is always ready to house my words.
  • My husband values the moments I collect and is on the look-out for them too. He is my advocate and reminds me from time to time to post on our blog or to write a story of one of our kids. It is this which keeps me writing on the overwhelming days.

Make a plan to become a writer. Feel free to join us for The Challenge or just dabble in a notebook. Either way, make a plan to collect bits of this one, precious life you are leading. You won’t be sorry.