Celebrating Writers and Teachers
It’s the end of the school year and our days are full of reflections, assessments, and all kinds of celebrations. During those final days before summer vacation begins, we find many ways celebrate student growth and recognize their accomplishments. And of course my favorite celebration is a simple and informal writing share with parents and students.
But before I tell you about how we do that, I’d like to take a minute to think together about how we celebrate ourselves as writing teachers. Celebrating our growth as teachers of writers is something we don’t always remember to do. We teachers remember to reflect. And we use our findings to improve our craft and tweak future plans, but we sometimes forget to say to ourselves and to one another:
- “Yay for me. This year I was really good at ____.”
- “I am celebrating how I taught writers to ____.”
- “I’ve gotten so much better at ____ as a writing workshop teacher.”
My job as writing workshop coordinator for kindergarten through fourth grade brings me into fifteen classrooms during writing time each week. I see celebration-worthy moments all the time- and not just because of the students’ writing. I also notice teachers who are so focused on cheering on young writers, that they often miss those “Wow, look what I just did” times. During this school year, I’ve kept notes about those moments in the classrooms where I work, and this week I’m using a few leftover dollars in our writing workshop budget to purchase small journals to share with our writing workshop teachers. I’m including a brief note about each of their celebration-worthy moments.
(These Moleskine notebooks come in sets of 3 for just over $12.)
Today, I encourage you to fill in the blanks of those sentences above. And when you have your answers, celebrate. Not reflect, not plan, just celebrate. An unapologetic high-five for us moment.
And now, about that student celebration I love so much. Each May, we host informal writing shares with our first through fourth graders and their families. Since my school is an independent school where there is no bus transportation to and from home, many parents drop their children off on their way to work. Therefore, we schedule our informal writing share times first thing in the morning so parents can participate for a few minutes before their work day begins.
In advance of the writing share, I send home a grade-specific version of this letter to families. My purpose is not only to let them know the details of the event, but also to explain that their writer will likely share both finished pieces and work that is still in the notebook or folder and may be in progress.
Each writer decides what he/she wants to share, so classroom teachers don’t spend their time organizing that. On the morning of the share, parents and children find a cozy spot in the classroom or a common area to read a piece or two together.
It’s an easy, low-key, virtually planning free way for us to provide our young writers with one last opportunity to celebrate their body of work. It takes almost no time (something that is, without fail, in short supply at the end of the year). Parents are informed, and it is one more way for them to learn about the workshop.
So, as you wrap up your school year, I hope you’ll take time not only to celebrate the writers and writing in your classrooms, but also to acknowledge your accomplishments as a teacher of writers. I’d love to hear how you plan to celebrate and hope you’ll leave a comment below.