I'm just going to cut to the chase. If you want your students to make progress and grow as writers, you have to KNOW them as writers. Let me explain!
Imagine attending a Google Workspace training workshop with 30 attendees. At the beginning of the workshop, you are provided an example of a project that incorporates several components of Workspace to complete. The instructor then provides a rubric for which to assess the project. Perhaps it lists tasks to be completed in each component, the overall asthetic of the project, etc.
Imagine you are a beginner when it comes to the programs in Google Workspace, and you have much to learn! Unfortunately, the project that you've been given to complete is not related to the work you plan to do with the platform, and because of that, you are not very motivated to complete it. As the instructor begins to guide you through the work in each program, he tells you exactly what to do, and then moves on to the next piece.
Now consider another attendee, who has moderate experience with Google Workspace, and knows many aspects of most of the programs being utlized for the project. For him, the project is pretty simple, but the instructor wants him to stay with the group as they work. He become frustrated as he finishes with ample time, and knows he has not yet learned anything new.
In both instances, the learners are not able to grow as Google Workspace operaters. Why? Because the instructor did not know the skill level of his students. If he had known the variety of experience levels in the class, what they could do, and what they could not do for each component of Workspace, he would have been able to tailor his instruction for the class, as well as for students as a whole. In addition, if he had known why you were learning the platform, he may have provided a choice of projects to complete.
I apologize for that lengthly example! But please bear with me for just another moment as I ask you to compare this situation to your writing time. Are there students who aren't quite ready for the skill you are teaching? Do the topics and writing tasks you choose interest your students? Are there students who are more than capable of the writing tasks you are asking them to complete?
Now don't get me wrong, it is common that students will not be ready for a skill you choose to teach your class. The important piece of your instruction is that you KNOW who is ready for what! It is also extremely important that students are motivated to write, by having opportunities to choose their topics.
When you take time to get to know your writers, you are able to make instructional choices for the whole class, as well as for individual students, that meet their needs and move them forward in their progression as writers. Think of all the times you have had students struggle to complete their work, even with prompts and guidance. Perhaps there have also been times when students completed their writing quickly and were ready for more. Having a better feel for your students as writers will alleviate both issues!
In the next post, I will discuss ways to learn all about your students as writers, so you will be on your way to creating a successful writing time!