“That’s not what I meant.”
“You know I was just kidding.”
“I don’t understand? Of course, I do.”
“I take offense to that.”
“That’s not relevant to the conversation.”
This is a handful of statements. Outside of context, they could mean practically anything. In a school environment, they have the potential to sound like a wall of defensiveness backed by adulthood. Many might adhere to the notion that age deems experience, wisdom, and rule. But I wonder: What experiences? What collection of wisdom? What power of rule? I recently watched the following TED talk by Kathrine Shultz, “On Being Wrong.”
Shultz asks, “Think for a moment about what it means to feel right. It means that you think that your beliefs just perfectly reflect reality. And when you feel that way, you’ve got a problem to solve, which is, how are you going to explain (it to) all of those people who disagree with you? It turns out, most of us explain (it to) those people the same way, by resorting to a series of unfortunate assumptions.”
When I recall conversations where I was wrong, the memory is attached to a physical response, accompanied by a realization. My tone. My posture. My breath. The literal beats of my heart, changed. Thinking back, I can’t ignore that only moments before the realization, my tone, posture, breath, and beats felt…right. Again, it wasn’t until the realization. I also can’t ignore that it is in moments like these, I open more, and being open means I am seeing, valuing, and hearing whoever is in front of me. If I am wrong, am I willing to understand what is right, what is in front of me? Are all ideas and principles that binary?
As educators, we can each identify with both scenarios. You may have even been one of the three in either story, or maybe you were Alex. Building a classroom community starts with being open to knowing our students beyond their favorite color, or comic character. Our writing workshops are a starting point to learning the most about our classroom communities through opportunities to allow each one to be seen, valued, and heard.
This week at Two Writing Teachers, we’ve unpacked our suitcases to share with you our best tips, ideas, and strategies for creating a classroom of writers that come together as a community regardless of whether you are six feet apart or six miles apart. In a COVID-19 world that educates young learners, we see, hear, and value what you are all facing. We also know how important it is to our readers to join students together through writing experiences, so I am excited to share with you what we have in store all week long!
Later today, Marina is going to walk you through how to establish a community through a name study. Marina makes clear the foundation of identity through names and give you more than just a lesson, but will inspire you to reimagine how you have used name study with your students to build a community of writers.
On Monday, Melanie is going to take a step further into honoring the identities of our students through identity maps. Knowing ourselves and knowing our students is perhaps most important as we venture into different spaces together, from a distance.
On Tuesday, Therapi will tap into the heart as the center of our writing community through heart maps. Using the work of Georgia Heard with her own spin on seeing, valuing, and hearing what beats in the hearts of our students.
On Wednesday, Lanny pulls apart to put together partnership work in a Covid-19 writing workshop. Starting slow to grow big through connections and small communities within the whole.
On Thursday, Beth will remind us that writing teachers are doing more than teaching writing, using narratives as a springboard for trust and transparency as students take risks in telling their own true stories.
On Friday, Amy will share examples of mentor texts to spur perspective-bending ideas as a launch into shared writing experiences to build community.
On Saturday, Kathleen takes us on a ride through launching poetry in your classroom community. No matter what form your classroom shapes up to be this year, you will find a treasure of ideas to make poetry an accessible way to build your writing community.
On Sunday, Stacey will share how your feedback can be shared and used as a way to grow your community of writers after they are joined together in ways that establish they are seen, valued, and heard.
We hope this week you will expand your sense of wonder in a world that is ever-changing. Our students are watching us, and we have an opportunity to show our writers how coming together as a community in joined efforts can have a real impact on the expanded communities in our lives.
- This giveaway is for a copy of En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual
- Latinx Students by Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera. Thanks to Heinemann for donating a copy for one reader. Please note: You must have a U.S.A. mailing address — Sorry, no FPOs — to win a print copy of this book.
- For a chance to win this copy of En Comunidad, please leave a comment about this or any blog post in this blog series by Sunday, August 9th, at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Betsy Hubbard 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 10th.
- Please leave a valid email address when you post your comment so Betsy 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 email address will not be published online if you leave it in the email field only.)
- If you are the winner of the book, Betsy will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – SEEN, VALUED, HEARD. Please respond to her email 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.