I am of the fervent belief that teachers who write make the best writing teachers. I know I am not alone in this. I follow and collaborate with others who share this view: Two Writing Teachers, started by Stacey Shubitz, TeachWrite, founded by Jennifer Laffin, and Teachers Write, started by Kate Messner. I find inspiration from these amazing people.
I know how busy teachers are; often balancing work and home life responsibilities. It’s not always that easy to commit to writing so I look for ways to make it accessible and inviting. One idea came to me when I noticed my teacher friends writing great posts for Facebook that were humorous or heartfelt and I asked them if they’d be willing to share beyond their circle of friends. I created a blog for teacher writers called Just A Moment where these stories can find a home and other teachers can find inspiration. Some of the works on this site were originally created for the blog, but many others were “recycled” writing teachers had previously created. This approach is another way to encourage teachers to think of themselves as writers.
I try to create writing opportunities that are collegial and supportive. I know writing can be isolating, and sharing can take courage, so we find safety in numbers. We have a group of teachers in my district who get together (infrequently) to write and share. I asked teachers at one of my schools to join in a group poem about the holidays. Contributors each shared a few lines and together we created a poem that we posted in the school. It didn’t take much time, and the collaborative aspect made us each feel more comfortable.
This last week I created a Padlet called Teacher Talk-Poetry Block and invited a number of teachers to create an acrostic poem that spoke to their passion, experiences, or beliefs about teaching and learning. I started with an example and then others joined in. Honestly, I am so inspired by their words but also by their courage. It didn’t take them long, but it did take moxie.
I would love to get more and more poems in this collection, so if you would like to contribute just click on the + in the bottom right corner and add your own acrostic. I will continue to look for ways to make writing more inviting and easy for teachers and I welcome any ideas you may have tried. Let’s support teacher writers-ourselves included!
What’s On My Book Radar?
BE KIND by Pat Zietlow Miller illus by Jen Hill
BE KIND has been a mantra in schools for several years now, but what does that mean for a child. What specific actions can make a difference for others? This book explores that concept in a very tangible and accessible way. I think this book is perfect for young children, but middle grade readers could also read it and contemplate what kindness looks like for themselves and their peers. A GREAT book to stimulate conversation and action. If your school or classroom has focused on the theme “CHOOSE KIND” you should choose BE KIND to support that!
If you read this blog, you probably know I am passionate about literacy. It is easy to find colleagues who want to talk books and share new titles. I’m part of many reading communities both in person and online. When we ask teachers, “Are you a reader?” they almost always answer with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” and follow with their favorite genres or titles. When we ask teachers, “Are you a writer?” they often look apologetically and respond with, “Not really.” or “Not a very good one.“
There are a myriad of reasons why this is so, but lately I have been pondering my role in this. What do I do to encourage more writing from my colleagues? Well, a few things:
- I have some sections in my book Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6 (Teacher Mentor Texts p. 66, Teacher Writing Group & Teacher Mentors p. 90-98, as well as Walking the Proverbial Mile p. 229-230) in which I offer support to teachers for their writing.
- I have hosted Teachers Write get-togethers at a local bookstore for the past few years with teachers in my district to work on personal projects.
- I have participated in the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers each March and gave feedback to dozens and dozens of writers as well as posting my own slices.
- I encouraged several teachers from my district to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge and four of them started their own blogs. We had a blast together.
- I give writers notebooks to every new teacher in our district to encourage them to capture that first year of teaching.
This week I want to try something new. I know not every teacher wants to create their own blog, it can be time consuming and offer techie-troubles. So I thought why not create the blog platform for them and encourage teachers to share their writing there? I’ve seen very creative posts from teacher friends on social media that capture the chaos of parenting and/or teaching. What if we collected those pieces in one place that could provide inspiration for aspiring writers and an authentic audience for our work?
So today I am launching the blog Just A Moment. I’ve asked a few courageous teacher friends to share their moments, and they agreed. I’m not sure how frequently the moments will be posted, it depends on who I can encourage to share! I would love to see my fellow slicers share some of their pieces here too. All you have to do is click the CONTACT page on the top of the post and let me know. Also,if you read someone’s moment, I hope that you leave them some words of encouragement. It would take JUST A MOMENT.
What’s On My Book Radar?
Magnolia (Maggie) Grace’s mother is divorcing…again. Her stepfather left them for another man and now they are leaving Georgia to live on the farm in Vermont that Maggie’s real father left for her after he was tragically killed. Devastated to leave, she soon finds out what it means to be “home” and what it means to be a family. Slowly she begins to discover the father she never got to know and the mother waiting to break free from “Georgia Rules”. I found myself sucked right into this charming story and the rich characters Steveson has created as a type of Modern Family meets the Waltons!