I woke up too early with too much on my mind. This isn’t unusual. Today, the difference was where my thoughts led me. Not to my notebook to le6 thoughts out, or my book to escape into another world, but here.
There has been a lot of conversation about writing at my school. About expectations. Translation grades. I have sat in these conversations. Knowing that all teachers sit in strongly-held convictions. With as much respect I can muster, I have gotten involved in haggling over minutia embedded in progressions. As to whether something is below, on, or above grade level. I have been distracted and overwhelmed by these conversations.
A text from last night from a colleague is probably the source of my way-to-early-morning wakefulness. The text said she overheard my conversation and wanted to support me as a teacher of writing. That phrase, a teacher of writing, shook me.
Writing is personal. When we write, really write, we are putting ourselves in a frightening position. And this presents the question, how does one grade or place an expectation on a struggling writer? And let’s face it, everyone is a struggling writer.
My students’ writing is brave and bold and silly. And I love every word. It’s not that I don’t see the writing potholes that need to be filled. That is part of the work. But I believe, the work of a writing teacher is not setting or defining expectations. The work is creating an environment of inspiration: getting students to want to write. Only by doing do we improve. And, I believe that receiving a grade of any kind does not inspire students to write. It may validate some for their effort, but does it make them want to open a notebook, to write a blog post, to write a poem, I think not.
I started this blog years ago to do the work my students do. And through the blog, I found writing communities such as Two Writing Teachers. There, I made dear friends and learned my most important writing lessons. Getting and giving feedback in a writing community is a gift. That is what our students need to write. The gift of community and feedback, not grades. It is time for me to write in a community. To do the work, my students need to do.
I didn’t sign up for the March Slicer Challenge, so I am a rogue writer. But, knowing this community as I do, I hope to find acceptance, as well as old and new writing friends. Grateful to you all.