My Slice: Is There Something (That Matters) to Write About?

sols_6Tonight I’m sitting in my students’ shoes, I have nothing meaningful to say. Tonight I am a reluctant writer.

I’d much rather read a book and have a cup of tea.

The tea sits beside me. I take a sip and feel a little better.

I pull out my computer. Not charged. Perhaps this is a sign. No one would notice if I didn’t write.

But then thoughts of my students creep in.  Those students who write even when they don’t want to, because I give them the time and space. How can I not write? I plug in the computer.

Perhaps some of my resistance comes from reading my Sunshine Award post to my students today. I had passed the nomination on to them asking them to write random things about themselves and to answer a few questions.  I read my post aloud to model what I wanted them to try.  I think,  yikes, this needs a strong rewrite! Meanwhile students are fascinated by what I had to say, and can’t wait to try it for themselves.

So here I sit with a few finished pieces, tea in hand. I read them looking for seeds — ideas that might evolve into a memoir of a ten-year old. In the past it has been difficult to get students to write something meaningful. The I-have-nothing-to-say or nothing-happens-to-me syndrome stops them short.  Perhaps they aren’t developmentally ready to reflect on moments that matter and have molded them.

Their random responses are heartfelt. They show glimpses of who they are.  Some show their love for all things electronic or their passion for a particular sport; their dreams of what they want to become and things that just say, this is me. All show family ties.

Here are few:

I’m sad because my dad is away.

My mom is there for me no matter what.

I would like to take back being mad at my mom.

I have bright orange shoes for playing indoor soccer.

I love sparring. I am a red belt. 

I’m tired all the time.

I bite my nails when I’m nervous.

 I have a great imagination.

What they choose to share about themselves is telling, and I am honored to read their thoughts. Some make my heart ache; others make me smile. Clearly there are seeds of meaning here. Lots to dig into. Can a ten-year old’s memoir be significant? Can they reflect on moments that matter? We’ll need to dig carefully around these memories that are just peaking through the surface. Unearth them in a way that preserves and protects their hearts as they unravel who they are. Is something meaningful here? Maybe. We’ll have to write to find out.

6 thoughts on “My Slice: Is There Something (That Matters) to Write About?

  1. I think those glimpses into your students’ thoughts and feelings have lots of potential for telling more. They are almost like story starters that they can return to when they think they have nothing to write about. Thanks for sharing and I wish you all lots of writing success!

  2. Even when you thought you had nothing to write about, you did. It will be an interesting journey to find a memoir within the random statements. What a great way to learn more about your students!

  3. Your beginning of the slice makes me think that it is the tea that helps with the writing. Maybe I should bring some to my writing workshop. Your thought about students not being developmentally ready to write a memoir may have truth to it. But there are always some who surprise with their thinking and words. I hope you will get many surprises as you did with the prewriting.

  4. “We’ll have to write to find out.”
    Yes…and I’m so glad that you did! And thank you for sharing those bits of student writing – I love those glimpses into their lives.

  5. I think you are so respectful of the journey your students are taking, & as you nudge them a little farther, perhaps they will nudge you too, Julieanne? Thanks for sharing all about this writing you’re doing with students.

  6. One of the most important insights I’ve gained through my own writing is how my students must feel in when we place writing demands on them. I love the idea of unearthing their memories “in a way that preserves and protects their hearts.” This isn’t always easy. I’m glad you persevered and wrote, Julieanne. I would have noticed if you hadn’t.

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