As a teacher, I would say that one of my strengths is the ability to encourage a love of reading in my students. My last blog talked about the independent reading program in my class. Through the years, I have struggled with developing that same strength as a writing teacher. But I know in my heart that just as the success of our classroom reading program lies in the atmosphere and high expectations created, so too, my writing program needs to be there. Inspired by my colleague and new friend, Penny Kittle, and numerous conversations with amazing colleagues like Gary Anderson, Dan Sharkovitz, Maja Wilson, Mardie and so many other amazing folks on the EC Ning, I am spending my energies second semester focusing on creating that important writing atmosphere. Armed with ideas, brand new super cool writer’s notebooks and the trust of my students, we have embarked.
I’m nowhere near where I want to be as a writing teacher. I remind myself each day that it took me many years to get to where I am as a reading teacher and I need to allow myself to learn each day and not do everything at once. But I have already seen rewards in the classroom.Today after our reading time,without any prompting, my kids went and got their writer’s notebooks. “It’s time to write now. Isn’t it, Mrs. B?” Wow! We haven’t started the hardest work: the fine tuning of our ideas, the focusing, the revising and editing. Those steps come in the next weeks. But the enthusiasm is there. They are just starting to blossom, to find their voices. We begin the careful dance. How do I help them find that voice, help them recognize when and where to fine tune, to build up, to let go? How do I tend this garden of newly blossoming writers without letting my heavy handed gardening destroy the beautiful bloom? How do I insure I create the IT that will allow them to learn and to grow and to look upon our time as writers as a gift and a joy?