This seems like such an easy task–interacting with educated people who have the same goals and love kids and the work they do. But, as I plan the summer workshops I’ll do with a group of teachers I keep getting stuck.
It’s not that I don’t have the content at my fingertips. Planning writing workshops, making sure that all aspects of grammar and writing conventions are addressed in the course of actually allowing kids to write is not the problem.
But on paper, it’s flat and lifeless. The art of teaching writing is in bringing content that’s so easily laid out in black in white to life with and for the kids.
To make writing meaningful, so that all the stuff that kids are tested on actually matters to them in their lives requires the intangible stuff. Teachers have to find a way to love what they’re doing even if they don’t. Writing isn’t easy for adults. Staring at the blank sheet or monitor can be intimidating for anyone. How do I teach adults to love writing, themselves, to share their writing life with the students as part of the process?
Well, part of the solution is to engage the teachers in writing. I know these people, but most of the work I’ve done with them so far has revolved around reading instruction with only spurts dedicated to writing. I have no idea if any or all of them write for pleasure, hate writing, see it as a useful tool to be mastered and tracked with check lists, if they are poets or can’t get enough time to write nonfiction, or if the extent of what they compose can be boiled down to lesson plans. And believe it or not, that matters in terms of instructing others.
So, as I help them shape instruction for the students–I’ll have to find a way to sell the idea that they need to write, to model real writing, their writing, and that in the end the students will find magic in the process and maybe they will too (maybe they already do).
I’m not sure I’m that good.
But, I think I can do it.
And so we’ll see.