What Would They Say?
I had a moment.
It was when my superintendent visited my classroom and asked my first graders, “What is your favorite part of the day?” I waited for the anticipated answers like recess, gym, lunch. Then she called on a student who had a lot of challenges to overcome. As I held my breath she answered, “writing workshop,” with a happy grin on her face.
My heart melted (exhale).
It was in this moment that I knew the constant changes and challenges due to the needs of our students are all worth it in the workshop. I wondered, what does workshop mean to my students? What would they say?
So, I asked. These were some of the answers I received and I gained a lot of information.
- “I like to write stories.” (T)
- “I get to make books.” (G)
- “It’s all about writing and you make your own stories and it’s about true stories and it is about you.” (L)
- “I like to draw about my sisters and tomorrow. I’m going to write about me and Jack playing. I just love to write. I write at home.” (M)
- “I get to write pictures. At home I never get to. We don’t have paper.” (J)
That last one really got to me. He doesn’t have paper?
I looped with kindergarten students up to first grade this year but J is new to my class and very bright. He doesn’t “like” much of anything at school. He would rather “play” as most six year-olds would say. But his answer was interesting to me. He said, “I get to” when talking about writing. It helped me to remember that each and every one of my students is coming with various experiences, but in order to find their writing voice they need time to blossom. Just as I have learned about my own writing, I didn’t know I had a writing voice until about three years ago, and I’m thirty years older than J. It was only after putting myself in the position of being a writer that I knew I was, “a writer.”
J will bloom into a writer this year. I will tend to his leaves in my classroom and give him plenty of water, sun and love.
What would your students say about writing workshop? What does it mean to them? You might think about asking to get a peek into the window of their voice. Keep your eyes open wide when you tend those writers in your garden.
Betsy Hubbard is a kindergarten and first grade teacher in the little town of Olivet, Michigan. She hopes all her students can find their voice even as young writers. Betsy is a poetry advocate and the creator of Chalk-A-Bration, a monthly celebration of poetry and poem illustrations using chalk. She can be found at I Think in Poems, Teaching Young Writers, and on Twitter @BetsyteachK.