Yay!! It's Writing Time!
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
This is how I felt when it was time for writing in my classroom! It was my favorite part of the day. Students would gather on the carpet, and would listen intently to what I had in store for "my writers" that day. My job was to teach them something new, get them ready to begin, and send them on their way, so that they could create! I loved seeing what they were working on, and especially loved seeing how much there were growing as writers each day. I even loved the challenge I felt almost every time I would conference with a student, hoping that I asked the right questions and got them moving in the right direction.
This was not always how I felt about teaching writing. It used to be boring, non-engaging, and very ineffective. But after years of trying new techniques, learning of best-practices through professional books and workshop trainings, having one-on-one coaching, and talking with other educators, I gained the knowledge necessary to become a more effective writing teacher.
I think one of the biggest changes I made in my instruction, was how much of the work I was doing for my students. Just as in other areas of learning, the students need to do the work! It wasn't helping my students for me to give them ideas for their writing, or to have every student have the same opening or closing. They were not learning to spell if I corrected all of their misspelled words. If students were going to improve in their writing ability, they needed to be taught in their zone of proximal development, just as with reading. My job is to teach them just what they are ready to learn, and to guide them along the way. One of my biggest "aha" moments, was when reading The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins. She speaks of teachers valuing the work students are doing at every level, and compares it to a baby learning to speak. If they say the "d" sound for the word "daddy" we do not ignore it or tell them it is wrong! We praise them for their efforts and accept it as what is right. That, she says, it what should be done for students as writers at every level of development. Of course!!!
Another drastic difference was the idea that not every student is working on the same topic. In order for writing to be meaningful for students, they must be personally invested. They need to be able to chose their topics, as well as have ability to decide what they will do with their writing. When I let go of control and let it get a little "unorganized" if you will, my teaching, and therefore the students' writing, really took off!
There are so many reasons why I love teaching writing! For now, I hope these ideas will help get your wheels turning as to how you may begin to enjoy writing time as much as I do!