This week I was “interviewing” some kindergarten students about their reading and writing attitudes/feelings. They would choose from one of three faces to respond to general questions such as, “How do I feel when I am reading?” or “How do I feel when I am writing? I also asked some specifics to get feedback on some foundational skills.
It was revealing to see how they perceived their skill, some aligning closely to demonstrated ability, and some filled with hope and optimism.
Then I asked students “What’s easy about reading/writing?” as well as “What’s hard about reading/writing?” Lots of answers had to do with reading and drawing pictures and making books, or even trouble spelling certain words. But it was one comment that got me looking at our young students with greater empathy this week.
When I asked Dani* “What is hard about writing?” She looked down at the table and said. “I feel lonely.”
I didn’t have a response for that other than, “You do?” She nodded and then looked up at me. I asked, “What do you do?”
She lifted her shoulders in a quick shrug. “Someone helps me.”
That’s the first time I’ve heard a child describe what I have sometimes felt as a writer, this sense of loneliness. The realization that it is just me and that page. For the rest of that day and in the days since I found myself looking for signs of loneliness or joy in the faces of young writers. It is a gentle reminder to me that skill alone is not the intended learning. We teach the reader, not the reading. We teach the writer, not the writing.
Being a part of a writing community is one of the best ways I know to combat writer’s loneliness. I’m grateful to be a part of one, I want all of our students to have that sense of community as well. Thank you, to all of you slicers who create such a supportive #SOL17 community for one another this month.
*not her name