Okay, But What Would You Do?


Okay, friends, colleagues, what would you do?

Joshua is a fifth grader. His mom is a teacher in your building who you’ve been friends with for years. It’s three weeks into the school year and Joshua has done nada so far during writing workshop. His mom, your friend and colleague, warned you that this has happened pretty much every year in the past and has given you her blessing to do whatever you need to do. Okay. But what do you do?

Ariel is a third grader. On the first day of writing workshop you invited your class to write about true stories from their own lives. You promised them that no story was too small, that their lives were worth writing about. You promised them that these first stories would go on display, to celebrate all that they already know as writers. “You already know so much! Show me your best writing!” you said to them. You took home their first stories and read them, and when you got to Ariel’s you discovered that she wrote a vivid and powerful story about how her parents fight all the time and she just wishes they would get divorced. You remember the shy smile she gave you when she passed her story to you. You ask your teacher friends what they would do and their responses are all over the map–consult with the guidance counselor, get her a private journal, encourage her to write more, call the child’s parents, display the writing so she can be proud and strong, no actually don’t display it, they say. But what would you do?

Ella is a second grader. Right now the only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing she wants to do during writing workshop is draw. She draws and draws and draws, and if you suggest that she begin to write some words, she nods, she responds well, she says, “Sure!” Then she draws and draws some more. On Day 3 of Drawing (with a capital D), you take extreme measures, deciding to forbid drawing for now, saying to her, “Okay, Ella, only writing during writing time. No more drawing. Start writing. Now.” She starts drawing as soon as you walk away. You ask her teacher from last year if this happened and her old teacher seems surprised and tells you that in her class, Ella wrote volumes. Huh. Interesting. What do you do?

Alex is a fourth grader who absolutely REFUSES to let ANYONE except for you see his work. You’re already thinking ahead about the publishing party you’ve got planned for the end of the unit. Alex has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to have his work displayed or shared in any way. What’s the plan for Alex? What would you do?

These are my conundrums for the week from various classrooms I work in and experiences I’ve had. I have my own ideas about what to do. But I want to know what what you would all do. Leave a comment and share your suggestions, please!

PS Feel free to share your own “What Would You Do’s” as well!