Shhh! Come here. A little closer. Can I be honest?
The school year is winding down and I’m sadly recognizing the gap between the writing teacher I want to be and the reality of the writing teacher I currently am. The more I read and discover, the more I see I need to tweak, shift, or overhaul completely. I can give you a whole laundry list of reasons why it’s hard to implement this work (truly- there are many reasons!) but in the end, I want to do better and dwelling on all the obstacles doesn’t get me any closer.
My OLW for 2018 is “Do.” It’s about action and taking the small step toward improvement instead of lamenting about the way things are. So here are some of my “organization wishes” and “happy writing dreams” (Channeling Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams”) for moving forward towards my goal of improvement:
- Create separate conferring toolkits for every genre I teach. I currently have one toolkit but I can fall behind on switching out the materials when we change genres. Having all my anchor chart samples, mentor texts, and materials at the ready will help me be better prepared for conferring. Helpful resources on this topic: Conferring Toolkits Blog Series, A Writing Teacher’s Summer Project, and ICYMI: The EdCollab Gathering.
- Update my anchor chart interactive notebook which I can use for minilessons and strategy lessons. Have this tool all set to go for next year. Helpful resources on this topic:Posts by Melanie Meehan (especially A Peek Into My Evolving Chart Notebook) and DIY Literacy videos with Kate and Maggie Roberts
- Organize my mentor texts and reread Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz to be more intentional about how I share mentor texts and craft moves in different units of study. Helpful resources on this topic: Mining Mentor Texts for Craft Moves, How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves, 10 Topic Choice Mentor Texts , and Curating Mentor Text Collections.
- Create an easily accessible writing center- organized and fully-stocked with materials students need to feel inspired to write. My current center can use a makeover. Helpful resources on this topic: Back to Basics: Writing Centers, Writing Centers to Organize All Your Materials, and Creating Classroom Environments: Paper Choices.
- Do a better job of facilitating writing partnerships and writing groups. Helpful resources on this topic: Writing Partners: Authentic Purposes for Writing, Intentional Talk with Writing Partners, Setting Up Writing Partnerships, Setting Up Writing Partnerships for Success, and Top Five Lessons to Teach to Writing Partners Right Now.
- Communicate more effectively and consistently with parents about the writing we are working on in school and how they can support their child at home. Helpful resources on this topic: Helping Parents Understand Writing Workshop, Helping Parents See Progress Through the Process, Ways to Involve Caregivers: Homework and the Writing Workshop, and Reflecting and Raising Clarity: Parent Communication.
- Keep a list of running questions about students I struggle to teach: How can I help students who write in ways that isn’t grammatically correct? How can I help students who consistently avoid correct capitalization? While I never want my first words to them about their writing to be about conventions, I worry that they are not fixing these mistakes as they continue writing during the year. How do I help kids internalize these rules? Helpful resources on this topic: Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Conventions and Presentation: Solving Predictable Problems, Micro-Workshop: Making Time for Conventions and Grammar, and Five Grammar Lessons.
It’s a little embarrassing to share this list with you. I would love for you to think I have it all together, with perfectly planned minilessons, artfully prepped in my chart notebook, the just-right mentor text at the ready at any given moment, my conferring notes full of rich description, wise observations and insightful next steps. Alas, the truth is I’m not yet close to the writing teacher of my dreams. But I’m among friends, right? And we’ve got to keep it real. Knowing where I fall short is half the battle! Knowing how I need to improve and the resources that will help me is the crucial first step to improving as a teacher of writing. On social media, we sometimes show our best selves but the truth is teaching is very challenging and difficult work. We do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better. I know better and I’m going to put energy and effort into improving!
What are some of your “organization wishes and happy writing dreams?”