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