partnerships

Growth through Vulnerability

Shaky hands,

Butterflies in my tummy, 

My mind races. . . 


Second guesses, questions abound

Was my language concise?

Did the big idea come across? 

Was my piece fully developed? Relevant? Scattered?

What if she hates it?

What if I really can’t do this?

Am I even a writer?

My palms sweat,

With a racing heart, I push share.

As writing teachers, many of us are in the habit of daily writing. Some of us even keep blogs where we reflect and share our learning with the global community. We post our thoughts, student work, ideas for what’s next; however, how many of us actually push “share” to receive feedback prior to posting? 

Engaging in writing partnerships is an important part of the writing workshop classroom; however, it is also one that can be the scariest. We are asking students to lay bare themselves and be vulnerable to someone they may or may not yet have a strong trusting relationship with. 

It is important that as writing teachers, we engage in writing partnerships ourselves to better relate to what our students go through. This allows us the unique perspective of stepping into the shoes of our students. As an adult with a writing partner, I can attest to the scary feeling deep inside every time I push share. I am typically someone who is secure in my thinking and I have a habit of daily writing; however, all of that becomes shaky when I share my writing with another adult. Doubt creeps in and my mind becomes flooded with “I can’t.” 

It was through engaging in writing partnerships that I gained greater compassion for my own writers when they hesitate to share with their peers. Acknowledging the scariness that can come with being vulnerable, while focusing on the growth and positives that occur when we do put ourselves out there is vital to helping students see the value in engaging in writing partnerships. Being honest with students about my personal challenges and fears has opened up dialogue with students. 

In the foreword for The Confidence to Write, by Liz Prather, Tom Newkirk states, “When we recognize that we are not alone in having inhibitions about writing and that others have ways of working through them, we can overcome the shame we feel in experiencing difficulty.” Leaning on my partner has helped me understand the vulnerability and value involved with sharing my writing with someone other than my students. 

While writing this piece, fellow TWT author, Jessica Carey, shared her post, Partners in the Process. Jessica’s post talks about the steps she goes through and acknowledges the important role her writing partner plays as she develops a piece of writing. The relationship forged within the partnership is apparent in Jessica’s post.

Engaging with a partnership as an adult has allowed me to look at my writing and what I ask of students in a completely different way. When working with student writers, I acknowledge the challenges of sharing writing with someone else and then focus on the beauty involved. As an adult writer, I am learning more about myself: 

  • I have a tendency to wander-sectioning off my writing helps me keep focus
  • More words doesn’t mean greater clarity-simplify those sentences
  • I naturally write in passive voice. Through revision, I focus on moving towards active voice

With each share of my document, confidence is built. It becomes less scary and I grow as a writer. This is what I want for my students. I want them to find confidence through collaboration, a better understanding of who they are as writers, and find value in the perspective of others. 

One thought on “Growth through Vulnerability

Comments are closed.