My goal is to write about writing in the classroom every Tuesday, but last night while writing my reflection of my Monday, I came to the realization that I need to focus on the benefits of writing (as well as the skills) with my students. After a Monday that included showing the “Growing Up” video to three science classes of boys (about 80 boys), getting my head shaved by sixth graders during their lunch period as the prize for raising three hundred dollars for St. Baldrick’s, squeezing in a four-mile run, and presenting a school budget (millions of dollars) at our board of education meeting, I decompressed by writing about it in my journal at 11:00 PM last night. AND it felt great. I wrote:
“As I pulled my winter running hat over my bald head and entered the dark cold of the March night, I felt a sense of relieve wash over my entire body. The tightness that I carried all day since my morning shower at 5:30 AM completely disappeared.”
Honestly, I barely remember writing that part of the reflection. The thing that I do remember is that when I closed my writing journal, I felt like I was on top of the world, and I was ready for a new day with as many obstacles as a middle school could throw at me. Everything that I felt throughout my Monday was left on the pages of my journal and it felt awesome. It is exactly the reason that I write, and it is exactly what I need to teach my students. I will be reading them my entry today.:)
When teaching writing, I get caught up in making sure the students get their ideas on paper and that they do it while paying attention to the conventions of their writing. All of those things are fine, but I never teach them about the wonderful way writing can make you feel. It can help to release stress. It can help to release anger. It can help you to relive the happy time. Plain and simple, writing can help.
Yesterday, I started class (after the read aloud) by sharing a poem that I had written over the weekend (this was actually on a suggesting by a fellow slicer – thank you:). It took less than five minutes. I was able to share with them the figurative language that I utilized in my poem, and most importantly, I reinforce the fact that I write outside of the classroom (for fun). The kids asked all kinds of questions and still we kept it under five minutes. The highlight was the girl who showed up at the door during the closing minutes of ninth period with a poem that she had written after ELA class (I’m guessing it was during someone else’s class, so I should have scolded her, but there was no way that I was going to do that – I just thought in my head that I was sorry to the teacher that was teaching during her poetry writing session – that has to be enough).
So, when I woke up this morning, I decided that I am going to share three pieces of my own writing with the kids (when it fits into a lesson or discussion) a week. I will even show them paper receipts, napkins, and the back of church school flyers (that my kids get) that I write story ideas on when my writing notebook is not handy. I won’t tell them that it is while I’m sitting at a traffic light. I will show them my errors, my scratch outs, and my ideas that I am still struggling to make into a story. I will show them the fun of writing.
The goal will be to show them my love of (constant) writing in hopes to hook a kid (or many) to writing (example: girl writes a poem after seeing my poem). This will be an ongoing goal, like my reading goal, of turning every student into a writer who enjoys writing. The sky is the limit if I can make them love both reading and writing.