Educators as Writers: A Follow-Up Conversation
“Should Educators Be Writers?” was a question I posed about a month ago. With many passionate educators readily calling themselves “readers” but shying away from identifying as writers, the post was the start of a conversation that we at Two Writing Teachers hoped to continue. A Voxer group was formed, and within the first day, we had an initiative! Literacy coach Dana Kramaroff removed the “I have no time” argument when it comes to writing by suggesting that educators could write one post-it or sticky note a day and share it on social media. #EDtime2wrt (educators time to write) was born and soon after, Dalila Eckstein had the idea that our students could write post-its too and connect via social media. #Sstime2wrt became a place for us to share the writing our students were doing. Here are some of the #Edtime2wrt post-its that have been shared:
Here are some of the #Sstime2wrt post-its that have been shared:
The post-it initiatives have been exciting and energizing! We wanted to share with the larger Two Writing Teachers community some of the other discussions that have been happening in our Voxer group and the action steps educators have been taking to promote writing.
- The #Sstime2wrt brought about collaboration with our students across grade levels and geographic areas. Deb Frazier’s first graders in Ohio and Michelle Haseltine’s 6th graders in Virginia shared their blog posts with each other and Michelle’s students wrote comments, delighting the first graders. Deb’s first graders composed comments together for some of Michelle’s 6th graders. I wish my words here could capture Deb and Michelle’s joyous descriptions of their students’ excitement around this collaboration! It was just incredible to hear how joyful the experience was for the students (and the teachers).
- While this discussion began in online communities, one of our goals was to bring this conversation to our own school communities. Michelle Nero wrote an enthusiastic post , in which she shared an email she sent to her district to convey the excitement around educators writing. Others spoke about conversations with administrators and coaches. Michelle Haseltine described sharing the #EDtime2wrt and #Sstime2wrt hashtags with the Literacy Training Team for her county. Erika Victor shared all the initiatives with her school and her ELA coach planned to incorporate writing into the next faculty meeting. I sent an email to the teachers and administrators in my district, posing the question “Should Educators Be Writers?” and highlighting a workshop I will be presenting on blogging on February 23. (A few more teachers signed up for the workshop after I sent the email!)
- Dana Kramaroff, a literacy coach, spoke about a resurgence of creativity and how writing each day on post-its has been great practice for the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March. She described how her daughter has been writing more as a result of seeing her write more, and noted, “Being in the presence of people who write leads kids to write.”
- Terrie DeHaan spoke about how writing post-its each day for #EDtime2wrt has made her more disciplined and her student teacher has started writing too! Terrie reflected on the collaboration and passion that is evident in all the teachers sharing and discussing the idea of educators writing.
- Erika Victor reflected on the impact our discussions have had on her as a writing teacher. She said she is now “more aware, more empathetic, more tuned into the issues and struggles and everything about being a writer.” Erika also shared that she will be presenting a 45 minute workshop on Educators as Writers as part of a Teachers Teaching Teachers professional development. Erika credits Deb Frazier for sharing an idea about hosting a Writer’s Lunch to get students interested in the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge, beginning in March. Erika recently hosted a lunch for 12 of her 17 students who expressed interest in the challenge and she bought them new notebooks and pens to build excitement!
- Reiden Bures shared how she has “restarted” her writing life and finds herself writing in front of her students far more often. She is blogging more and exploring the idea of a Writer’s Makerspace. This idea was shared by Jill Davidson (one half of “ShelfieTalk”, with Kim Stewart) in one of our Voxer conversations.
- Michelle Haseltine was so inspired by the idea of Writer’s Makerspace, she has jumped right in and will be facilitating a club for students, as well as presenting the idea at the Northern Virginia Writing Project in the spring.
- As we’ve been sharing our writing, our students’ writing, and our stories online and in our Voxer group, another idea was born. A new Voxer group was created to explore the idea of collaborating on a book written by us (teachers and coaches), sharing our experiences through the calendar year. The idea is in its’ infancy and we are dreaming up possibilities and ways it could go, but it is exciting to have energy and momentum around the idea of writing our teaching stories.
As I reflect on all that we’ve been sharing, planning, discussing, and implementing, I am so proud to be part of this community. We are planting seeds. Change takes time, but think of all the students who will reap the benefits of being taught by teachers who truly understand and live the writing process. Who value writing. Who give them time to find their own writing voice. Who inspire them with new notebooks and a Writer’s Makerspace and the chance to share their work with other students in different parts of the world. We are helping to make positive changes in our schools, for our students.
The conversation continues! We welcome your voice and ideas on how we can spread the word that when educators write, it is a powerful way to help students grow as writers. If you would like to be added to the Voxer group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your Voxer username in the email. Share in the comments any way you have been promoting the idea that educators should write or how you’ve been living a more “writerly life” yourself.