Dreaming Big for This Year’s Writing Workshop

A bead of sweat forms just below her brow. With her head down, it dares to fall. Legs stanced, the bead travels centimeters to the corner of her left eye. Three, exhale, Two, lips pursed, One-BANG! Power pressures every muscle forward. She’s hurling her legs to a sprint. The bead flattens, spreading across her eyelid. It’s there–a distraction–as she rounds the corner toward her first hurdle. Hup, hup, hup, hup, six more, each one feeling like the last as she throws herself through. She thinks she’s forgotten to breathe when suddenly struck by the ribbon draping her chest and shoulder. Feet slap the ground in a braking motion. Head back, the bead joins a tear. She inhales, sifting air through the awestruck hand over her mouth.

Success is rarely an accident, and we don’t jump all the hurdles. We crush some, kick some, completely miss others. Runners don’t blame the hurdles; they study them. Runners train to beat the hurdles, and not just jump one–but ten–in a row.

When I think of the hurdles in education, I am reminded of buzzwords like mindset, grit, and rigor. Each of these words has a dark side if we aren’t careful. Sometimes we begin initiatives in the spirit of these words, but when results of these practices don’t yield a certain level of performance, these words can be turned on their head and used against their intended purposes. We can look at the practice as flawed. We might see ourselves as flawed or even our students. On a track, hurdles are predictable, lined up in rows, and in plain sight. Even then, we can still fall. Truthfully, practices worth the investment have a lot of experience, research, time, and care living underneath their results. This makes investing our time in these practices worthwhile.

All week long all of us here at Two Writing Teachers will be encouraging you to find that one thing you’ve tried and maybe given up on, maybe been too overwhelmed to even consider and really turn it on its head with focus, deliberate practice, and anticipation for hurdles. We hope to get you ready to clear your hurdles and make space for what may seem impossible. This is the year you will conquer new elements within your writing workshop practices.

In their book, Kids 1st from Day 1, Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz (2018) tell us,

“The real key is how we see setbacks, because let’s be clear, we teachers encounter a lot of them. If you see a setback as a threat to your identity (“But I am supposed to be good at this!”) it is very hard to confront it and learn from it. But when we are able to see setbacks as a natural part of learning and living, look at them honestly, and come away with some valuable feedback about what to try differently next time (there will always be a next time!), then we live as teachers who constantly grow and develop and constantly improve and refine our practice.” (p. 4)

We hope you will look at your writing workshop, choose the elements to focus on for the year, and really look to see what catalyst is needed to create the reactions and responses necessary for true transformation and improvement. Look to our list below to begin getting inspired today with the descriptions of our upcoming posts through the week to start dreaming big and making this the year.

Here is the line-up:

  • Later today, I will share strategies on how to use writing partnerships more purposefully within the writing workshop.
  • Tomorrow, Deb will continue the series when she unravels the ways we can integrate technology into our workshop time.
  • On Tuesday, it will be Lanny’s turn to encourage you to write alongside your students.
  • On Wednesday, Melanie will guide you with practical ideas on creating strategically written texts.
  • On Thursday, Stacey will tackle record keeping and share usable techniques to keep better records all year long.
  • On Friday, Kelsey walks you through creating and using a writing toolkit.
  • On Saturday, Beth will help you organize and grow your mentor text collections.
  • On Sunday, Kathleen will get you thinking about your workshop structure when she tackles share time.
  • Next Monday, August 13th, Melanie will come back to roll out of all the links from the series and the winner of our giveaway!
  • Also, on Monday evening, August 13th at 8:30 EDT, Kelsey will moderate our #TWTBlog Twitter chat continuing the conversations about your big dreams for the year.

If that’s not enough to get you excited to tackle a big dream, take a little inspiration from Audri. We can all learn a little something from Audri.

Giveaway Information:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Kids 1st from Day 1: A Teacher’s Guide to Today’s Classroom . Thanks to Heinemann for donating a copy to one reader. (You must have a U.S. mailing address to win a copy of this book.)
  • For a chance to win this copy of Kids 1st from Day 1: A Teacher’s Guide to Today’s Classroom,  please leave a comment about this or any blog post in this blog series by Sunday, August 12th at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Melanie Meehan will use a random number generator to pick the winner’s commenter number. His/her name will be announced in the ICYMI blog post for this series on Monday, August 13th.
  • Please leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so Melanie can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, our contact at Heinemann will ship the book to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, Melanie will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – KIDS 1ST. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.