I’m combining two weekend memes today in celebration of writing:
I was a writer before I was a teacher, and it turns out that nothing has informed my teaching more deeply than this habit of having to write about what I’ve read, thought, and done over the course of a day, week, month, or school year.
I write to shape my thinking about experiences in my classroom: the way my kids learn, and the things I can do to extend and expand upon that learning. Writing about our classroom life in an honest and open way in my notebooks an on my blog allows me to be a reflective teacher; for, in the process of examining what went well and what did not, I find a better way to move forward.
I write to notice the world and the way I make my way in it. A beautiful Fall day, the quiet of our classroom as we work to become better readers and writers, the noisy and spirited conversations that erupt when there are interesting things to talk about…all of these find a way into my writing life. We can hold onto moments and prolong their joy when we give ourselves the chance to write about them – and so I write to treasure and preserve memories.
I write to become a better writer – to flex my creative muscles as I reach for this or that craft move. In every blogpost or notebook entry, I find myself trying something new and seeing how it fits my own writing voice.
I write to become a better writing teacher. Through the act of struggling to formulate cohesive thoughts and write about them in an engaging way, I learn how to teach with greater clarity. My struggles are my kids’ struggles: what to write about? how should I collect my thoughts and organize them? in what ways can I make my writing interesting so that my readers will want to read my words…and remember them? Wading through and finding a way through these struggles gives me insight into the writing process, which, in turn, become the seeds for mini lessons and student conferences.
And, most importantly, I write to be mentor to my students – to set an example of what it means to live a writing life. When I write alongside them, or share something from my writer’s notebook, the implicit message is always this: yes, I know that writing is hard, and often frustrating work…but here’s why it is so worth it, and here’s how we can do this work together.