Friday, November 11, 2016

Today’s reflection was so hard. I truly am sending it knowing it is a work in progress. I just felt a need to send it even though it feels unfinished.  Thank you all for the hard work you do each day to help our students to be the best they can be.

The power of Language

It’s possible. Even today when it seems it’s more popular to insult others and spew hatred, a writing workshop classroom can become a space where everyone feels safe, where words have power, but the power is not used to ridicule, but rather to celebrate and educate, to entertain and persuade, to argue and reflect. Students can rise above petty differences and instead become a community of writers working together to share ideas, and affirmations, disagreements, and challenges to make their voices heard.

Carl Anderson, author of How’s it Going, says you can tell your writing workshop is successful when it feels like a club, a writing club where every student is a member.  This atmosphere is created when students know they can take risks and not be ridiculed.

Everyone in the room appreciates the hard work that goes into writing. The teacher, also a member of the group, shares his writing with the class to show he’s willing to take risks, which encourages the students to become risk takers too. Students are writing coaches in the classroom, not just the teacher.  It’s important they realize that everyone can offer encouragement and positive suggestions to their peers. That is very different from a classroom where the teacher assigns writing projects that are due in a specific number of days with a specific set of requirements, where there is no conversation or talk to fuel ideas and learning and writing.

Our classrooms are microcosms of the world outside. We can choose to ignore the real sense of hurt and fear felt by many of our citizens, or we can choose to help and heal by cultivating empathy, and trust. We can help our students find their voice in ways that bring people together rather than tear people apart. We have a huge job ahead and I believe writing workshop can be an perfect place to do that work.