Skip to main content

Try it Yourself First!

As teachers of writing, we know that using precise words in our writing allows our readers to visualize and understand what they're reading. Therefore, we advise our students to select precise words when they're writing. We take this aspect of our instruction seriously. We also know that avid readers develop an extensive vocabulary which they can use in their writing. That's why it's so important for our student writers to become effective readers.

As avid readers we are also discriminating readers. We read and delight in exquisite writing. We know what good writing sounds like and feels like.

Now that I am becoming more aware of my own writing process, I can empathize with my students: this is truly challenging work. And that's why it's important for me to write every day to experience what I am asking my students to try out in their own writing.

Playing close attention to my own writing process has been eye opening, if not painful. However, this emerging awareness will make me a better teacher and a better writer.

Several years ago I attended a post-conference institute at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) with Katie Wood Ray and Isoke Nia. I know the day-long institute must have been full of wonderful learning events. How could it not be? It was led by Katie and Isoke, but my biggest take-away from that day was Katie's advice to always try out any writing task we assign our students, preferably before they do it on their own. By experiencing what we ask our students to do as writers we will be more effective teachers of writing to our students. Unfortunately, I haven't always followed this wise advise. However when I do, it makes a difference in my teaching and my student's learning.

This month we are starting a new unit on argument writing with research. I plan to write and research right alongside my students. I will be reporting here about how it goes.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Students Plan for a Day of Learning

This is the third in a series of blog posts about strategies I use to help my students take ownership of their learning. The first post was about class meetings. The second post was about giving kids opportunities todetermine their own writing and reading plansevery Friday afternoon. (Coming soon is the fourth post in this series about using student surveys to provide feedback about the classroom.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Yesterday I felt more independent than ever because I had to tell myself what to do." - 5th grade boy
It did not come as a surprise that my students embraced the idea of planning their learning for an entire day. That is what being autonomous and self-directed is all about and what we all desire to be in our day-to-day experiences. Allowing students to create their own schedules for learning, albeit conditioned by specific parameters (reading, writing, math, sc…

The Teacher I Want to Be

The
I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
Teacher
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was as…

Searching for Balance

I have been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of days. 
And, I've come to the conclusion that I must change my attitude - shift my stance - so I can assume a new perspective. So that I am more aligned with what's important and may add value to my life.  
Focusing on the negative is not making me stronger or healthier. In fact, I am often stressed because I worry a lot about unimportant things. I obsess over situations out of my control. I dismiss positive experiences that would help lift my spirits and align my focus towards what's important. 
I need a distraction from my own thoughts.
I need balance in my life. Not because I work hard to prepare my classes. Not because I read a lot of professional literature. Not because I wrote a lot this summer and will continue to do so now that school has started. But because I have been obsessing on the wrong things. Mostly, I obsess about what someone said or did and what it says about me as a teacher. I obsess about …