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Writing Matters

Today Deb Gaby and I finished leading the third day of a three-day Foundations of Writing Workshop training. At the end, we asked for reflections. Teacher after teacher commented on the impact of adult writing time. In each session, we gave time to write. If we want to learn how to teach writers, it’s not just about compiling lists of mentor texts and possible minilessons, if we want to teach writers, we must be writers ourselves.

I must confess, this is the part of the training that I like the best, while it is also the part which makes me the most nervous. What if the magic doesn’t happen? What if teachers aren’t transformed by the act of putting words on the page? I’m beginning to realize these are irrational thoughts.

Putting words on the page is always powerful. Always.

Of everything I can do to encourage and nudge teachers in the journey of learning to teach writers, the experience that makes the biggest impact is writing themselves. Writing matters because:

  1. We realize it’s not as easy as it seems.
  2. We are changed when we collect our thoughts and share them with others.
  3. We realize how quickly a community is established when people share their writing with one another.
  4. We gain insight in how to talk like a writer.
  5. We understand the vulnerability that comes with putting words on the page.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and just write. If you’re not sure what to write, try putting the story of a student down on the page. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Ruth Ayres View All

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

11 thoughts on “Writing Matters Leave a comment

  1. Oh my gosh, Ruth! Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with this. Participating in Teachers Write last summer and actually going through the process of writing in such an authentic way and thinking about how my own experiences compare to students has been life changing. I write a lot for my blog but taking a fictional piece through a draft and now trying to revise it has allowed me to open my eyes to the multitude of decisions a writer makes. I wish everyone would read this post and think about writing in their life before writing with students. Thanks for sharing this!


  2. “…if we want to teach writers, we must be writers ourselves,” is a powerful statement. I agree – and just shared the link on my FaceBook page. Love your helpfula nd informative blogs.


  3. As a children’s book author and an editor of educational materials, I was so excited to read this blog! I agree completely. How can we talk about writing unless we try it ourselves? Our kids, our students, are all writers. They write every day. We need to help nourish this belief in themselves and keep them putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboards!) and do it ourselves so we can all connect and share important insights, tips, and experiences. I go into schools and do a presentation on How to Write Nonfiction based on my nonfiction book OFF TO CLASS: INCREDIBLE AND UNUSUAL SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD (Owl Kids). I try to engage the students in reflecting on their own nonfiction writing practices as well as I discuss my process. It is wonderful. Teachers, do some nonfiction writing on your own time as well, as Ruth suggests, either about a student or something that has happened in your own life or something you’ve heard about or care about. Maybe even read it to your class and have them give you some compliments and constructive criticism!


  4. Ruth, I had 18 colleagues join me in the March SOL challenge and we haven’t stopped talking about it since. It was LIFE CHANGING for us as teachers of writing. And as…. people. Writing matters. 🙂


  5. It’s tough when teachers have not used writing for their own personal uses since school really. They seemed to learn then that it was an assignment, not a pleasure. I’m getting there, but it’s slow. I have some who have expressed interest in doing some writing with their students, a start. Thanks again for expressing this so well, Ruth!


  6. I always tried to avoid writing, and then I had to teach it. It’s not easy or effective to teach something you don’t know how to do! (Duh!) I registered to participate in a NWP Summer Institute. Of course, that year the funding was cut and we only got two weeks instead of the four, but it was still amazing. I loved having the accountability and it really did turn in to a community- even with just two weeks! Writing is ALWAYS the first thing to get cut from my grade level’s day, and then people wonder why our kids can’t write and think like we want them to.


  7. Ruth,
    I teach a graduate methods class focused on the teaching of writing and I have made the crux of learning on teacher as writer paralleled with teacher as teacher of writing. My students always tell me that the writing piece is what made the difference for them. This stems from a cohort of teachers in a district where I presently work where we focused on writing as both being a writer and teaching. Your list of why this works is my experience–exactly. When teaching writing is rooted in being a writer, the act of teaching and establishing a community of writers grows in a more natural way.


  8. Thank you! On a whim, I signed up and completed the Slice of Life Challenge in March because one day, as I was teaching students how to write in English (I teach ESL), they asked me how I would organize and write a response to a question. I realized that it had been a very long time since I had written anything other than a grocery list. Now I know after successfully completing the SOL Challenge, I am a better teacher because I have learned exactly how messy writing can be, and how great it is when other people respond to what I have written.


  9. I posted this on my Facebook page. I don’t know how to get across to my colleagues how important it is for them to write. I overheard in the hallway this week, “I told them they didn’t have to write any more this year.” What a shame that the testing atmosphere has taken the joy out of writing!


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