SOLSC and DigiLit Sunday – March 27,2016: Trust


Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

digilit sunday

Join Margaret Simon for today’s DigiLit Sunday posts where Margaret invites us to continue the conversation about digital literacy and trust.

Yesterday, our writing group exchanged many Voxer messages about the issue of trust in digital literacy in general, and writing in particular.  It reminded me of the many occasions in which my students and I had to tussle over difficult issues all arising from one thing: trust.

We have to learn how to trust our writing voice, so that we can write about things that matter most to us.  This is often a hard thing to learn how to do, especially for my students who worry so much about how their peers will respond to their blog posts and digital writing pieces.  Sometimes, this means writing about a topic which is uncomfortable or painful: a death in the family, divorce, bullying, or racism and how to respond.  Very often, writing about any of these topics is a way to sort through our own ideas and find clarity by exploring our thoughts and listening to the voices of our classmates as they respond.  This kind of trust is built slowly and needs constant praise and encouragement.  It requires tending to.

But, we also have to cultivate an environment in which students learn how to formulate good judgement about what they will write about.  This is where it gets tricky, for the basis of this is often the trust built between teachers and their students.  A few years ago, a student asked me if he could write a slice of life  about his parents’ divorce.  As we talked it over, it became clear that he was most upset about the economic disparity between his executive father and his homemaker mother which led to situations in which “Mom always loses”.  Clearly, I understood that this was not the best SOL topic for my student to write about – it was too deeply personal, it would put him in an awkward position with his parents who were having difficulties enough, and it would put his classmates in an awkward situation, too: what could they say? what should they say?  Perhaps this would be a topic best saved for a writer’s notebook entry, a poem,  or a research based argument piece, I suggested, you can still write about this topic but just in a different format?  In as much as we must teach our students to write about the things they care about, then, we must also help them to know that they can trust us to help them figure out where and how to write.

As Margaret’s post illustrates, the thing about digital writing and blogging is that most of the issues we face are often as unpredictable as our students themselves.  In this constantly shifting landscape, one thing must remain ever present: trust.  Thank you, Margaret, for leading us in this important conversation  today.




13 thoughts on “SOLSC and DigiLit Sunday – March 27,2016: Trust

  1. Where we place trust, how we handle it is an important conversation. Trust is tricky. Something to think deeply about. In so many ways it’s not about the individual piece or situation, but how to be in the world.

  2. I read your thoughtful post which was punctuated by an incredible quote giving me much to think about today. Trust not in the branch but in your wings indeed. Thank you.

  3. Your point that in a classroom the trust isn’t only between the writer and the reader but the trust between the writer and teacher is very important too. Most of all the writer needs to trust him/herself.

  4. Good points, Tara. Not everything is right for writing about in every context. Discernment is a complex skill to develop, and it does need a helping hand.

  5. You bring up so many good points in this slice. In our middle school, the counselor who starts with 6th grade, stays with that class through their 8th grade promotion. I often wish I could do the same as a language arts teacher. By year’s end, when trust has been built, I have to say good-bye; and we all have to begin again.

  6. Such important points! It called to mind a situation I had with one of my student bloggers who wrote about a fictional character she wanted to be “alone with”, wanted him to be her boyfriend, and said something about wanting to “k**ll” anyone else who wanted to be his boyfriend. I didn’t publish the post (Kidblog lets the teacher decide what to post publicly) and was in touch with the student’s mom. Since it was right as this Easter break started, I couldn’t talk with the student about the idea that some posts are better suited for a writer’s notebook/journal and there are some things we cannot say on online, such as killing someone, even if we don’t mean it or are joking- it is not digitally responsible to say something like that at all. When you are allowing your students to blog, you have to give freedom but then you have to teach into situations where a public forum isn’t the best place for some pieces of writing. Your post really reminded me of that situation!

  7. Trusting those wings that you have given to your students. They learn that they can with your gentle guidance. Thanks for posting today and continuing this important conversation.

  8. It’s such a complex decision that topic to share, like choosing what kind of physical challenge to take on without thinking about one’s attributes for any one thing. And some students need to learn the many layers of possibilities of audience response. That the student came to you to talk over a possible decision is a wonderful thing, Tara. That trust formed will help now, but I hope will help him know that adults in the future may be sources of support too.

  9. I love the quote you included. I remind myself of it often. Yes, trust…I have to trust in myself as I post, I have to trust in my students as I guide them, and I have to trust in my students as they gain the wings they need for independence in the blogging world.

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