We all have expectations. We have them for ourselves as well as for our students. (Me too!) These expectations are formed by numerous external and internal influences, over most of which we have no control. We cannot stop our state from requiring testing (well, not alone anyway!). We may not be able to change the way our district evaluates our performance.
What we can control however, are our own expectations in regard to our students' writing pieces. This change in expectation will affect the way we assist them throughout the writing process, as well as how we have them publish their piece.
You see, everything we say and do, as well as what we have our students do, shows our writers what we value. If we want to show that we value our writers- their ability, their feelings, their interests, their progress- then our actions, and expectations, should match that belief.
Process Over Product
Writers in kindergarten, first and second grade are at the very beginning of their writing journey. They are still developing not only early writing skills, but also their writing identity. They are discovering what writing means to them-and what it could mean! They are finding out what they like to write about, the different ways/genres they can write about it, the type of planning that works and more. In addition, they are learning how to move through the writing process as well as the purpose of each step in the process.
When we focus on the writer, not the writing, we remember that the learning and growth they show is what is most important.
Very often, however, students go through all the work of drafting, revising and editing, showing all the things they have done-the changed words, the added details in their drawings and sentences, the corrected capital letters (that they found themselves, hopefully)-just to do it all over again in a "final draft".
In this final writing, students are expected to have a close to perfect piece, with no mistakes (or at least no grade-level appropriate mistakes). They spend so much time re-writing the work they have already taken so much time to do.
But why? Why do we need them to re-write their pieces?
Are we worried about that "expectation" that a student's writing piece should look at certain way or have a certain number of sentences? Do we worry that showing their invented spelling or messy handwriting or crossed out words in the hallway will be looked down upon by other teachers?
What are we indirectly telling our young writers when we have them re-write their piece so that their revisions or mistakes don't show? (And don't even get me started on writing the words correctly under their writing!!)
Let it Shine!
If we are truly valuing our writers and the process of writing- that they are still learning by the way- we should value the work they have done by sharing it with the world in all its messy beautiful glory!
Have your kindergarten, first and second grade writers make cover page and an "about the author" page and hang that writing up on the wall! Let everyone see the hard work your writers have done throughout the writing process.
Just in case you need more reasons for not having your writers re-write their work-here you are!
They don't enjoy it! Re-writing books they have already gone through is not something your young writers want to do. We want them to enjoy writing! There may be a few who do not love the messiness-feel free to have them fix up their messiest page!
It is not age appropriate for them to copy. They have a difficult time looking back and forth and are not usually able to get everything down on the re-written page.
It takes away precious time when they could be writing something else! Remember, the more they step through the writing process, the stronger their writing will be!
So what are you waiting for fabulous teacher? Go get that construction paper cover and put those pieces in the hallway!