This class has guided me in a direction that has changed my teaching forever. This is a dramatic statement. It is also completely true.
This is acting as a final reflection for the class I was a part of this semester.
My teaching has shifted this year. Subtly but surely. It is because I have been writing. I have been a part of a Learning Through Teaching class where we were charged with forging a link between our writer selves and our writing teacher selves.
I knew I could only make this connection if I actually wrote on a regular basis. I had to make myself vulnerable to the process of writing. I had to experience what I ask my students to experience, what all writers experience. The sharing of writing is the sharing of oneself. So began this web log of my journey.
Our district’s writing instruction uses the traits of good writing as a guideline to help navigate the writing process with children. I began this blog as a means to work through my own writing process, and to provide me with opportunities to experiment with ways to make my writing better.
In the beginning, I was struck by how much I revise my writing based purely on how it sounds when I reread it. Over and over. I can tell when my writing doesn’t sound right, but sometimes it takes a lot of tries for it to ring true. That revision process is ongoing for me, and repeats itself again and again before a piece is complete.
The first time I decided to write through the lens of the sorts of teaching points I try to impart to my students, was in the post, A Gateway to Conversation. I wanted a more powerful verb:
Inspiration grew at the super market when I put heaved a gigantic pumpkin into our cart and my husband asked dryly, “Didn’t they have a bigger one?”
This simple switch made a world of difference! It also crystallized what I was trying to do with this venture. I was trying to make my own writing better, and as a result I was trying to make my students better writers as well.
I found myself jotting down plans and ideas for my classroom, and searching for how they would translate into the written word. I tried playing with conventions. Could I experiment with them? Have one word sentences? I redefined punctuation for myself, and for my students: Punctuation tells the reader how to read your writing. Because writing is meant to be read. And because writing is meant to be read, every time I completed a post, I held my breath, and hit “Publish.”
I worked on being clear. I worked on decluttering my sentences. I accompanied purposeful thinking with purposeful writing. This translated into more purposeful teaching. I have been working on clarity with my students. I have been targeted in my writing conferences. I have invited parents in to conference with kids. We have been writing. In the end, and in its most simplistic form, this is what we were charged with.
As this semester winds down, I think of what I will write next. I think of my students’ notebooks in their desks. I think of how they have changed as writers since their first pieces back in September. I think of how I’ve changed since my first piece. It is all connected. The first chains in the link have been forged. They will be made stronger with time.