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
12 thoughts on ““I feel lonely…””
Your post rings true. We do want those things for our readers and writers…sometimes we just need a little face to bring it front and center in our minds as well as our hearts.
It’s true of our big kids too https://goo.gl/oudo73
Aww, man, that really gets me in the gut. I’ve taught kindergarten. They are some of the most honest people I’ve met. I love that she told you how she was feeling and that you honored that feeling. Writing is lonely at times. Wise words.
What a great piece, Paula! Can you republish on the Stenhouse blog, too? I love the reminder to teach the writer, not the writing! So evident here. Also, the importance of a collaborative community. I think this kindergarten student voiced what we all experience as a writer.
Hey Lynne, Not sure how to repost on Stenhouse blog!
What a lovely story. Our little friends need love and friendship and a partner each and every day…and so do we!
Wow! Her comment highlights why a writing community is so important. Thank you for writing this.
The writer not the writing. Yes, indeed. How I love this. Makes us realize how vital feedback and community really are.
I feel lonely when I write if I don’t share it. I find that when I write down my thoughts or feelings, even though I’ve gotten them out of my head, it’s still not like a conversation where someone is responding to me. Different outlook on the loneliness, but I too have felt it!
Wow – I love that this young writer knows herself so well and that she knows teachers take the time to listen to her. Writing can be very lonely – I think that is why I love slice of life so much. The community is everything. Thank for sharing the powerful and authentic example of assessment!!
Wow. What an insight from such a young child. Interesting how a comment like that can just stay with you all day, reframing a situation. I have never considered that writing in school could be a lonely endeavor, and now I wonder how that never occurred to me. Thank you for sharing!
How smart is that young writer and what great questions to ask kids!
Those kindergarteners always amaze me! I love this questionnaire and can’t wait to share it with our K teachers!