Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's okay.


Writing Workshop is something that I have grown passionate about in the past few years. I was blessed enough to have a very knowledgable and wise veteran teacher mentor me in the area of writing during my second year of teaching. Since then, I have marveled at the way kids can evolve in front of my eyes. This teacher, let's call her Mrs. R. showed me how writing workshop can be joyful learning. It can be a time of getting to know students, having students getting to know me, celebration, fun, and of course, learning!

Today, during an informal meeting, some colleagues and I were milling around about focus statments for our writing workshop lessons in the upcoming weeks. Yes, we looked at the standards, and our district's pacing guide, etc. but I was constantly drawn back to thinking about what my writer's need now. I challenged a couple of my colleagues to just think about what their writers need. I wonder how often we let ourselves think about what they need- not what they have to know, and how fast it will be on a test, but rather the most pressing NEED.

One teacher talked about mini-lessons where she encouraged students to flip back through old stories before getting new paper. I agree, this can be a powerful challenge. It is great for students to look at previous work and reflect. However, the more she talked, the more it was apparent that she wanted kids to go back and "finish" every story. Do they NEED to finish every story?

This got me to thinking... is this really what I want for my writers? Do I finish every piece of writing I start? Can we teach a lot of valuable things about writing when some pieces don't get finished? I had to reflect back onto my own summer challenge- where I tried to write a slice a day for a month. It was tough for me. I had a hard time thinking of subjects, stories, and ideas that were worthwhile. I still do!

I think I have to remind myself as a teacher- it's okay. It's okay if they don't finish every story. It's okay if their interests change, and they abandon an idea. It's okay if a newer and better idea comes along. It happens to me all of the time! Lots of Tuesdays, I sit down to slice and something entirely different than what I had planned ends up on the screen. It's okay. It's okay. It's okay. There are still teachable moments there...

Happy writing!


  1. It sounds like you've done some great thinking. If we are not teaching what students need, then we've wasted our teaching time. Stay the course, you're taking those kids down the road to some great writing.

  2. A great reflection! It's so important to focus on students' real NEEDS, as you said... especially when it's so tempting to decide for them what their "needs" are, based on curriculum, tests, etc. Your kids are lucky to have you as their teacher!

  3. I really agree with you, & what the students need, with your encouragement, is to write and write, and then write some more, without worrying about finishing so many pieces, etc. You are asking about your own experiences and it seems to me that what you know is authentic, what writers do, just as your students can be doing.

  4. This is a pretty cool reflection my friend! I'm glad that you are thinking, talking, listening, watching...continuing to learn more about your process and your kids as writers.
    By the way, have you thought about sharing this with your mentor Mrs. R.?

  5. You have made your thinking visible for the readers of this blog. I hope that you shared this with your colleagues too. Your reflections helps you to understand the young writers in your class. Have fun teaching and writing.