I gazed through my office window. Suddenly, there she was…a small bird busying herself. But what was she doing? Learning closer to the window pane, I watched as the little bird pecked and pulled at the ground. She appeared to be selecting some glades of grass, perhaps for a summer nest.
As teachers, most of us view summer as a much-needed period for decompression and recharging. But as teachers of writing, there are likely several of us who see summertime as a valuable opportunity to prepare. One thing I plan to do is purchase a summer notebook. For the past few years, I’ve chosen to begin a new notebook in the summer. This allows me a place to, once in a while:
- record observations,
- capture thoughts and ideas,
- chronicle memorable moments,
- make some notes.
In general, a new notebook becomes my new, fresh playground for writing. Oftentimes, some of the entries I create in the summer become helpful mentor texts for students or teacher groups with whom I work across the school year. But probably most important, as those of us at TWT have likely all said at one time or another, living like a writer (although not easy!) provides us authenticity as teachers. It builds empathy. And it is an invaluable experience. As Katie Wood Ray puts it,
“Everything we do in Writing Workshop teaches students. Either we can be walking, breathing, talking examples of all we advocate for our students, or we can have them sitting around wondering why we are trying to get them into something that we are obviously not into ourselves. They see me as someone who writes, which is how I’m asking them to see themselves, and this is a key ingredient to learning anything. They listen to me because they can see that I know what I’m talking about. You can’t get that if you don’t write.” – Katie Wood Ray
So, similar to little birds gathering material for a summer nest, I invite us all to live wide-awake lives this summer! Let’s grab a notebook and breathe it all in!
Below are some of my notebooks from the past years:
For more than 27 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.