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Be a writer. It matters.

Today I met with a teacher who said these words to me:

I don’t like writing. I really don’t like writing. Give me math all day long every day and I’m happy, but don’t make me write.

I appreciated her candidness. I love it when teachers are honest with me and I’m always humbled that they trust me enough to tell me things like this. I was also surprised. She’s an experienced writing workshop teacher who I refer others to observe and learn from her instruction. She went on to share:

I decided to discipline myself and start my own writer’s notebook. I decided if I’m asking my students to write personal narratives then I should write one too. So I’m writing and I can’t believe how much my instruction is changing.

We went on to talk about how being a writer transformed her writing workshop. She shared how her view of the writing process has become less lockstep and more fluid. She compared it to solving sophisticated math problems. Everyone always wants to know the steps to solve the problems, she said, but when you understand the math, you don’t need the steps. The solution happens as you think through the math. She also is an artist and described the way the process of creating a painting evolves naturally when she is engaged in the process.

This is how writing should work too. It is an organic, natural process. When we understand purpose, craft and conventions, and how they all work together, then we no longer need the steps of the writing process. It simply happens as we think through the project.

If you are looking to lift the level of your writing instruction, then I invite you to write. Start a notebook (or dust off an old one), play with words, try your hand at the current writing project your students are working on, just write. Then make a little list of the things you notice about your own writing process. I’d love to  know how your writing workshop is transformed by being a writer yourself.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

9 thoughts on “Be a writer. It matters. Leave a comment

  1. That is great advice! I think we become better teachers from the insights we gain as we work right along with our students. (Of course, I don’t know when I’ll find time to write essays, with all the papers I have to grade this semester!)


  2. Writing with my students has made us a better community also, but commenting on my own writing from the students and writing for that audience made me think through what I wanted to do with writing more clearly. It’s so important for students to see my process too, and fun to share!


  3. I love the honest quotes. And it is true that taking my own risks as a writer has changed how I think about teaching writing. I also appreciate the comparison between the writing process and the “mathing” process. Another perfect post to start off my school year!


  4. I was never a person who wrote to record life’s happenings. I would write only when necessary. I was a reading teacher (Title 1), I didn’t teach writing. Then I changed jobs and I was to teach teachers writing workshop. Lots of reading, but no practical experience until I started my blog for SOL. I have TWT to thank for lifting the level of my writing. If you are going to teach writing, you have to write. I makes you understand what we ask kids to deal with in workshop.


  5. Perfect post to read this a.m. I’ve been struggling with the back to school routine (natural disasters are not soley to blame!). Promised myself that I’d write the morning and I’d get out for a run this afternoon. Got the writing done and will keep this post printed and visible to keep me on my writing schedule. I’m teaching wee ones this year, so no writing workshop, but we do write throughout the day and I’ll need to keep it up myself! Thanks for posting!


  6. You could have been talking about ME here.
    I felt the same way as the teacher you spoke with. Picking up a notebook and deciding to write has just as you said, changed my writing instruction for the better!


  7. This is so true. I have enjoyed writing in the past couple of years more than ever because I have been focusing on myself as a writing as well as how I could improve as a teacher of writing. They really do go hand in hand.


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