Reflection and Growth: Writing in Preschool

When I first began teaching I had very little experience with writing workshop. Let me take that back, I had no experience. I had a wonderful student teaching experience, but workshop was not the writing model in the school I was placed. I had great experiences as a college student in a wonderful preschool with dedicated and experienced teachers who taught me to teach writing in the teachable moments of play. All good experiences. Did I know how to foster a love of writing in preschoolers? No. Was I prepared to take on kindergarten writing workshop? No. Did anyone expect me to? No. Writing workshop was not recognized in preschool and kindergarten when I first began teaching in the two districts that helped me build a foundation as a teacher. It was in my third year of teaching, when I took a class my district was encouraged to try, that I realized I hadn’t been teaching writing. Prior to this I had students take sentences from poems that I had put on sentence strips, cut them up, put them back together. I had them copy stories and songs on to paper. Students practiced letter formation. I was doing all kinds of phonics and phonemic awareness rich lessons that had kids writing letters and words, but they weren’t writing their own stories. I had paper. I had staplers. However, I didn’t put the two together! I wasn’t tapping into the writers inside of my students. I didn’t think that was even something “these kids” could do. Preschoolers? Kindergarteners? Writers? NO.

The class I took nine years ago transformed me as a teacher. It was the beginning of a new foundation, a writing foundation. I started reading. I immersed myself in the field of writing and wanted to learn more. I was frustrated by what I didn’t know and determined to change it.

Have you ever found yourself in this place? A place where you begin to see something missing and immediately want to change? Be better? I hope so!

Lately, I have had some thought provoking conversations with the preschool teacher in my building. For the past year and a half she has graciously allowed me to come observe and teach her students once a week. Upon leaving one of our conversations, I had a hard time turning off the wheels that continued the dialogue in my head. I began asking myself many questions. She is trying to balance what she knows is right for preschoolers and what she has been told must be done with preschoolers. I am trying to help her find it. I am thinking about it so much that all the forms of writing in preschool and how to model them have been swirling like a storm in my head. Can you help me? I’d like to do a series of posts in the month of February all focused on writing in the preschool classroom. I would really like to know what you need guidance with in this area of developing writers. Please let me know in the comments what areas of preschool writing workshop are missing for you and your colleagues.