Teaching well demands we stay current and try new ideas. There isn’t any insurance policy that the newest strategy, book, program, or app will work for all or anyone, but we trust our education and experience, and we do what we know to be best for kids. Brené Brown in Daring Greatly says,
Risk aversion kills innovation~ Berné Brown Daring Greatly
So embrace the mess, the awkwardness, and all the uncertainties rattling in your mind and do what you trust to be best for the students in your classroom.
When I reflect on the flux in my life, I waiver between pure joy of what’s to come and loss of what has been. Moving forward is scary when you have so dearly loved all that has been. Just writing this makes me pause.
Just a quick glance through the writing in our classroom and you will feel the call for more craft, more voice and more drama in our lessons.
Hiding in the piles of writing were quiet writers, whose empty folders cried out for help. These writers became my focus for the next two weeks, and this post. Quiet writers cry out for help in all our classrooms. Reading the work of the writers in our room was just the beginning; teaching the writer demands conversation with the writer.
Of the many ways I gain an understanding of my writers, my favorite and most valuable is gathering up all the writing and diving into reading ALL the students’ work.
Our workshop was feeling forced, unnatural, and just rushed! We struggled to fit it all in and share time (the most valued time) was cut short with only 1 or 2 writers sharing each day. Something had to give. Writers weren’t growing, I wasn’t conferring, and it just didn’t feel calm and productive. I reflected on our workshop, the work of the writers, and the choices I was making, but I couldn’t figure out what was making me feel so unsettled.
This is when I realized all the writing we do shares this goal: making sense of the world and being passionate about learning. We are immersed in writing to make sense of the world and who we are in this big world. We are writing about things we know a lot about; ourselves, our families, our pets, our favorite things, favorite foods, and the list goes on and on. We ARE writing to making sense of who we are while imparting information about ourselves to our community. This sounds a lot like informational writing at it’s most basic level.
…in our classroom the tie between the opening and closing of the workshop seems to be the “salt of the workshop.”
Growing up the younger sibling of a sister with pervasive disabilities was a crash course in perspective. The lessons I learned from my sister have made me who I am. Lessons packed with… Continue reading
Sitting down beside a writer holds so much promise and knowing the interest and hobbies of the writer is as important as understanding the process and voice of the writer.
Workshop is messy on any given day, but workshops between procedural lessons and lessons to lift and support writers are the messiest. The only constant I can count on is uncertainty. I watch my young writers at work. I step back to take this all in and think who needs me the most right now, where can I make the biggest impact?
I pause to listen to these stories (as best as I can in classroom of 27 six-year-olds, each with a story to share). After they’ve shared their story I comment, “I can’t wait to read that story!” or “Wow, you already have an idea for writing workshop!” Some walk away shaking their heads, eager to write their story, others look at me puzzled as if they aren’t sure why I would say this when they just told me the story. (I often wonder if they’re thinking, “Weren’t you listening?”).
Writers need to feel ready to write and knowing where, what and how you will begin this thing called writing is an important start. Space and tools are unique to the writer and can change from day to day. Respect this and allow the opportunity for each writer to search and make choices for writing.
I am uneasy referring to myself as an author. I have writers I admire and I know there’s a vast divide between us, but I write. I enjoy writing; I write to improve my voice and my craft all in an effort to teach my students what it means to be a writer. As an educator I know all my students ARE writers. I don’t qualify who is and who is not a writer by the quality of their writing. I am working to give myself this same level of acceptance as a writer.
Choice Brings Agency and Focus The multitude of choices open to learners today has brought more authenticity and agency to our classroom. These opportunities have refocused how we plan, write, learn, and our roles… Continue reading
Writers within a community understand the importance of their writing community and work to maintain its existence. Because the students value their writing community, they also feel accepted and free to try new ideas, take risks, and push themselves to be their personal best. They feel encouraged internally and externally.
One question I am often asked about using technology is, “How do you get started?” The answer is actually a simple one – humbly.