Of all the things I do as a teacher, the most rewarding for me is collaborating with kids on their writing. And in terms of learning, it is perhaps the most effective thing I do for my students. There’s power in the face-to-face, head-to-head, eye-to-eye moments that I share with my kids. I get to see them and they me as we work through the truly tough but terribly important skill of writing, a skill that will follow them far beyond the walls of the school house. Effective communication skills will not only get them through doors but also help them climb ladders. But honing these skills takes time and support. I have found that the best support I can give is conferencing with kids one-on-one, where I believe I can accomplish more in two-minutes during the process than I can with five-minute written comments after the process.
But this takes time, a great deal of time. And that is not always easy for kids when they encounter my approach. Accustomed to the hurry-up-get-done-and-move-on approach, they don’t always readily or easily adjust to spending weeks, sometimes months, on a writing task. Currently we are on week 3 of our argumentative letters to the school board, and it is likely that we will spend at least three more. Oh, we don’t work on it every day; to be sure, we are only able to devote Monday and Tuesday to this task, but during that time, we immerse ourselves in the task, in the process. And that is the key to the long-distance, endurance approach: the process. Though we in education know the power of process in writing, it often gives way to the product, and in our rush to the end, the learning often gets neglected. I know some of my kids care not for the pace I set with writing, but I believe there is nothing more important that I will teach my kids, and so I am willing to give it the time it deserves–the time to struggle, the time to grow, the time to triumph. Together. Eyes forward. Feet pointed. Heads joined. We journey forth. Together.
Happy Wednesday, all.