As I walked out of school and across the parking lot last Sunday evening, having spent most of the weekend setting up my classroom, I realized summer was really, officially over. I was back in the thick of it. I hurried to my car, keeping one eye on the clouds, hoping I could get into the pool to swim laps before the clouds turned into a storm. I drove out of the parking lot, and another thought hit me. I was back in my rush, rush mode. Really and officially rushing. Rushing to get it all done, to squeeze in the “wants” with the “to-do” list.
Yesterday, Melanie wrote about why teachers should write, and how impactful teachers’ writing is for the writers in our classrooms.
But, let’s be honest. We are busy. Who has time to write? You and me, that’s who. “But how?” you ask. “How can I do it? How can I stick with it when I’m already so busy with school?”
- Make time, don’t wait for time.
Yes, we are busy during the school year. Time won’t suddenly appear. The truth is you’re going to have to make time. I have found that scheduling several writing times on my weekly calendar is one way for me to make sure I keep writing. I write other times as well, but I have three dedicated times every week.
- Make writing connections with colleagues, and share your writing with them.
My friend Fiona, who teaches fourth grade, devotes considerable time during summer to her writing. She regularly submits short stories to writing contests. And when the school year begins, she keeps writing, not for hours every day, but she writes regularly. She keeps submitting stories to contests too.
“When I shared my writing with other teachers, I found out that several of them were writers, too. Quite a few offered to read my work and give me feedback, which has been extraordinarily helpful. But just as helpful are the frequent “check-up” questions. Every time I pass a certain colleague in the hallway, he asks me how my writing’s going. I always want to have something exciting to tell him, like I’m working on a new story or have finished a draft. Another colleague keeps checking in to make sure I’m continuing revision and don’t give up on my current story.
During the school year, it’s all too easy to find something else that I need to do during the time that I’ve allotted for writing. But by sharing my writing with others, I create a support group that encourages me and keeps me accountable. When I need extra motivation to devote that time to writing, the thought of reporting to a colleague (or even a student!) and give me that “push’ I really need.”
- Share your writing with your students.
Your students will cheer you on and motivate you to keep writing. If you are writing a personal narrative to use for demonstration in a minilesson, keep going and keep your students posted. They’ll start asking you how it’s going. You’ll want to have an answer and that is going to help you keep writing.
- Consider stepping up your blogging life.
Only you can decide what kind of writing you would like to do. Perhaps it will be in a notebook. Or maybe you’ll set up or reinvigorate a blog. If you go that route, spend some time looking at other blogs. Find a few you like. Sign up to follow them. They don’t need to be blogs about teaching. One of my favorites is Smitten Kitchen. I love Deb Perelman’s writing voice. I also love her recipes. And sometimes I will read a post there and walk away with a writing idea.
- Find weekly writing events on blogs and participate.
In addition to the Slice of Life writing opportunity every Tuesday here at TWT, there are other weekly writing events that are easy to join. Margaret hosts Digilit Sunday each Sunday. Join Kathryn at Book Date or Jen at Teach Mentor Texts on Mondays to share a piece about what you are reading. And Ruth’s Celebrate this Week is an easy place to share a celebratory post over the weekend. Participating in a weekly blogging event will give you a purpose, a deadline and an audience for your writing. In addition, each of these writing communities is filled with encouraging, respectful participants who will support your writing efforts and motivate you to keep writing.
As the school year begins, let’s all commit to making time for the things we want to do, not just our to do lists. Let’s resist that rush, rush mode. Life balance is great for the soul. It’s good for our writing lives too.