I had the honor of guest blogging for Three Teacher’s Talk, a blog site I follow religiously. See, I can follow blogs on a schedule!
That blog took me longer to write for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason was I was writing outside my voice, and I was uncomfortable with that. So, I had to re-write it many times. I think I was afraid of my purpose, topic, and audience. Then, I did my self-talk, pumping myself up about the topic, writer’s workshop, and I found my voice.
It’s good to struggle with writing because struggling is a big part of learning and a big part of the writing process. I encourage my students to embrace the struggle, though it’s uncomfortable. I have to know what that feels like to help them through that. Often, they see writing come easily to me, and that’s not always a good thing. Actually, the only good thing about that is that I’m modeling that working hard and consistently does pay off. It does get easier.
It does get easier, but it is always difficult.
One of my favorite parts of teaching writing is conferencing with students.
I just read this blog post about conferring with students, The Consciousness of the Child: Another Thought on Conferring, and it reminded me of all the things I love about it. Namely, I get to sit and talk writer-to-writer with my students. It is the easiest way to build the writing community. It is the quickest way to make a student feel like they are a writer and that their voice deserves to be heard.
The blog was also a good reminder to think about understanding who they are, truly understanding. I remember a satisfying conference with a 7th grade ELL student last year. His opening problem in his story confused me for a bit, but then, it clicked what he was attempting. The language he used, the posturing of his protagonist, all of it was from his world, a world vastly different from my own. When I asked my student about what he was doing, if I was understanding it, he got the biggest grin. He was thrilled that I understood what he was doing, and we were able to talk at his level, honoring his voice. That smile of his is indelibly ingrained in my brain.
I read this blog, Takeaways: Boys & Literacy this morning, which also resonated with my thinking. It’s also a handy think-about checklist. The timing of these blog posts are perfect for me because as I head into thinking about my students being in 8th grade this year (we progress with our students at Westview Middle School), I think a lot about my boys. 8th grade can be more challenging to help them keep progressing as writers, and these blog posts are food for thought!
On the same site, Jackie Catcher summed up some more important things to think about with this blog post, Fart Jokes in 12th Grade. She reminds us that classic literature has some pretty crass humor in it, like Shakespeare.
I’m glad to be reminded about being patient with some of the crass humor to expect, and I’m also glad to be reminded that I actually adore Chaucer and Shakespeare.