“In addition to teaching the how of writing (the craft and the conventions), I think we need to pay equal attention to the why:
-What motivates us to write?
-What makes us care deeply about writing so much that we spend hours and days revising to get our words just right?
-How can we help our students ‘ache with caring’ as Mem Fox writes, about their writing?”
Georgia Heard, Heart Maps, page 5
Last January, when I raised the question, “Should Educators Be Writers?”, the response from this community was clear: Yes, educators should write, should share with their students, should consider their own process when planning writing lessons, should walk the walk when it comes to being a teacher of writing. In this Two Writing Teachers community, we come together on Tuesdays to share a Slice of Life and use blogging as a means to express our stories, our voice.
But what if you are not a blogger? What other types of writing might you do? How might you use writing to tap into your personal passions? Are you writing a piece that makes you “ache with caring”? And in a chock-full, busy-every-minute life, how can educators find time for writing that is deeply meaningful, with the lens of replicating this experience for students?
I asked the participants to answer these questions on separate post-its, then consider what themes or commonalities emerged:
- If you could only write about one thing all year, what would it be?
- What are some things you like to do/make?
- What is one issue you feel very passionate about?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
- What are 3 things you are good at?
Then, I shared with participants my own Passion Project. When considering the above questions, here are my answers:
- I love to write about my family and teaching,
- I love taking pictures and collecting quotes,
- I feel very passionate about literacy and teaching kindness,
- I would want a safer, kinder world
- I am “good” at technology (a little bit), listening, and writing
Those answers about my strengths and passions led me to a photo/poetry Passion Project for the month of October. My October has been…busy. It began with settling into the school year, my son’s 6th birthday, my husband’s 40th birthday, the NYSEC Conference where I was away for a few days, Parent Conferences, and Halloween still looms ahead. I wanted to find a way to remember the events of this month, to pay attention, to use writing and photographs to tell the story. I decided to take a picture a day and write a haiku for it. Most of the time, I used Word Swag to put the haiku right in the picture.
While a few days here and there sadly got missed, you can see the collection of my October Passion Project entries here.
For me, this project was something I could commit to, since haiku is a short, structured poem and paired nicely with the photographs I would take each day. I love looking back at how the month unfolded and the pictures I chose to highlight, the words I used to frame that moment. Each picture represents a meaningful moment in the month, forever captured with words along with the image. I shared this project with my third graders so they can see writing is something I live and breathe…really- not just for the mentor texts I share with them. In my honest-to-goodness life, writing matters.
What are your passions and interests? How might a writing Passion Project help you tap into the why you write and help you “ache with caring” about the writing you are doing? How might this influence your writing instruction? Please continue the conversation in the comments!