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‘Cause Teaching Writing Ain’t Hard Enough: Project 180, Day 10

“I am not a writer.”

“I am a writer.”

“I am not a writer.”

“I am not a writer.”

“I am a writer.”


Trail Talk

And that’s what I heard as we ended our day. I asked the kids to begin their Journey Journal reflections with one statement or the other, choosing the one that best described their mindset as a writer. After writing their explanations, I asked them to “publish” their statements by sharing them aloud as we went around the room. Importantly, I asked them to not be “teacher pleasers,” asked them to give real answers. Their first and most important role in my class is that they be themselves, and in this I expected no less. Kids have to be real, but I have to provide the freedom, the “safety” in order for them to be so. And I believe, their statements yesterday were real reflections of how they feel about themselves as writers. And while I was thrilled by their honesty, I was deeply discouraged by their revelation. I have a room full of kids who cannot, will not call themselves writers. Yet.

I aim to change their mindsets. You see, I don’t only want them to become better writers, but I also want them to change how they view themselves. And that will be no easy task, for they have long existed in a system that has conditioned them to be “completers” of writing assignments, not to be writers. A few have been lucky enough to discover the role of writer,–the power and beauty of their voice, but far too many have not even really been given a fair chance. I seek to change that along our journey this year. And so, I have increased my burden, filled my pack with a leaden task, but it is a task worthy, for if kids can change their mindsets here, then I believe the world is theirs, for writing is power. And that’s the crux. I want my kids to be empowered by the role of writer. I want them to be cast for life as the wielders of their potent voices in a world moved by words. And that, I believe, begins with their belief. And so, that is where I will begin. In fact, I already have. It began on day one.

“I hope you discover the unique power of your voice. Language is power, a power available to all. It is not reserved for a select few. You have language, which means you have power. I will help you find your way, but it begins with your believing that you have power. I so hope you make this important discovery this year.” (from Student Letter)

“I hope you discover the power of a growth mindset. I firmly believe that our attitude about anything means everything. With that, I would like you to add a tiny word with gigantic implications to your learning vocabulary. Yet. I hope it helps you bridge the gap between “I can’t” and “I can.” (from Student Letter)

“Role #4: Writer. This is also a worker role. My hope is that you write more this year than you have in all your other years combined. I believe this is perhaps one of the most important skills you can develop for life now and later. I need you to be a writer. I want you to believe you are a writer. We are writers.” (from Roles, Routines, Rights, and Responsibilities)

“Monday is a We Are Writers day (WAW). As the name suggests, we will be writing every Monday, working on either the assigned writing or our Passion Paper.   Tuesday is also a We Are Writers day (WAW).” (from Roles, Routines, Rights, and Responsibilities)

Okay, so I am peddlin’ propaganda and practicing amateur psychology. But my intentions are good. I really want my kids to change their mindsets. And I will work hard to that end all year long. Of course, it’s not like teaching writing wasn’t hard enough already, but I can’t teach writing to kids who aren’t writers. So, instead, I will focus on teaching writers to write. We are writers. Hear it. Say it. Believe it.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…begin with Smiles and Frowns.

…continue with Seedfolks.

…introduce “We Are Grammarians” Wednesdays. Needless to say, I do not feel the same passion here to change mindset as I do with writing. Still, there are realities that the kids must face for which I can prepare them. Too, if I am intentional, I can further empower them as writers here. And really, that is my goal. Tomorrow, I will share  how I am approaching that this year.

…reflect in our Journey Journals.

And that’s our day. Had some great initial writing conferences with kiddos yesterday. Beyond the rah-rah mantra stuff, conferences and feedback will be my greatest tool for helping my kids discover their power as writers. So excited to continue my journey with these lovely little humans. Happy Wednesday, all.

Do. Reflect. Do Better.


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