Finding the Time and Courage to Fly

It’s no secret that I am on a bandwagon to encourage teachers of writing to be teachers who write—regularly.  There’s really no professional development or course you can take to help you become a better writing teacher than to be a writer yourself.

Generally I find there are two reasons teachers are reluctant to write, and I think they are legitimate obstacles-but not impossible barriers.

1. Time- We often find ourselves pulled in dozens of directions with responsibilities. I get that. New Years is often an opportunity to reflect on and prioritize our values to help us create resolutions. There’s a ton of research on the benefits of writing (beyond making you a more effective writing teacher) that might help convince you to find 10 minutes a day to stop and jot. These benefits below don’t apply only to novelists, but to anyone who uses writing to capture and explore thoughts, feelings, and events.  Would 10 minutes of writing each day be worth scoring these perks?

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2. Confidence- Ask most teachers if they are readers and they can spout off stacks of titles they have read in the past year. Ask them if they are writers and the most common response is some variation of “not a very good one”.  TRUE, it is easier to consume (read) than produce (write) for almost everyone, but it is also true that the only way to get better at something is by doing it- A LOT.

I hope those who lack confidence in their ability to write have greater empathy for their students who are reluctant writers.  We all share the same fears. We wonder, “What if it’s not good enough?” But ask yourself, “Good enough for whom?” You don’t have to write for any audience other than yourself if you choose.  I encourage you to consider that it is our vulnerability that inspires our empathy and compassion.  Being a writer (especially an insecure one) can make you kinder through this awareness.

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Even amazing writers like E.B. White doubted their abilities. We are in great company with our insecurities. Maybe 2018 is the year you muster a little more courage than you thought you possessed. Maybe this will be the year you fly. Start small. If you don’t write…try it.  If you write a little…write a little more. If you only write for yourself… expand your audience.

You can get some support at the fantastic website TEACH WRITE . Started by Jennifer Laffin, a teacher and National Writing Project consultant who knows first-hand how difficult writing can be for teachers and students.  Here you’ll find resources for helping you to develop a daily writing habit, tips for classroom instruction, and a blog to connect teachers of writing. You can follow on Twitter with #TeachWrite for more tips and chats.

I’ve also created a blog for teachers to share pieces of writing with an audience of other teachers called JUST A MOMENT  Please take a moment to read through the posts here. Leave a comment for some of these teachers who had the courage to share. Appreciate the courage it took each in expanding their audience. Lift one another up and honor the daring spirit of those who took a risk. Maybe this will be the year you join them and share a moment through your writing.  I’d love to publish it when you are ready.

Just click the CONTACT tab on the website if you have any questions or are thinking of sharing.

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Here’s to a new year of stories waiting to be lived and shared. May you resolve to capture some of them in writing so that this time next year they’ll be waiting to be reread and remembered.

You have the wings. Don’t be afraid to fly!

What’s On My Book Radar

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Mystery of the Bear Cub

by Tamra Wight illustrated by Carl DiRocco

If you haven’t come across the Cooper and Packrat mystery series, you are in for a huge treat!  Author Tamra Wight was the owner of Poland Springs Campground in Maine and was inspired by life at the campground to create this incredible series. She is also an educator so this spotlight fits perfectly with my “teacher as writer” blog theme! Each book involves a mystery around an indigenous Maine animal. Each chapter begins with fascinating facts about that animal as we follow three friends (Cooper, Packrat, and Roy) who always seem to encounter some mysterious events at the campground.  This series is perfect for middle grade readers and I was so excited for this most recent edition. Kids can try to solve the mystery, but they are also learning about the environment, endangered species, interesting facts about animals, as well as the challenges kids face in their daily lives with family and friends.  It really has it all and is written in such an engaging style. I cannot recommend this series enough. You may want to start at the beginning, but each makes a great stand alone book!

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