14 Mar Slice of Life: Developing the Dispositions and Habits of Writers #SOL18
That was really hard.
Way more difficult than I anticipated.
I never realized how complicated this can be.
As I reflect on these comments made by a group of teachers who were drafting fictional stories, I realize how critical it is for teachers to engage in the process of writing. If you don’t write you don’t know the process. If you don’t know the process it is really difficult to connect with a writer.
Writing can be tough. There are days that feel endless and unproductive. I know this because I write. Not only does this help me teach students how to craft, draft and revise, it helps me connect with them as writers who face hurdles and dead ends. I understand why some students take time to get started. I connect with students who have multiple pieces going at a time. I can relate to the writer who is feeling unmotivated. I don’t disturb the writer who needs an extra minute to finish her thought – even when the bell rings. I know we want our students to love writing but honestly anyone who writes also loves to hate it.
I continually make deals with myself for motivation. New pens, a new notebook, a new mug, a new picture, a new necklace, a run if I make my word count – all used as bargaining chips to convince myself to write. I am an adult, so I can bargain with myself. What options do our students have when they are feeling uninspired? Do we have pens that inspire? Are there special seats for those who have writer’s block? Can students move when they are stuck in their writing? Do we have motivational words on rocks for them to hold? Do we save supplies so we can put out new materials throughout the year? Do we help our writers develop rituals to get them through the hard? Do we plan for them to celebrate – big steps and small steps? I find myself rereading Ruth Ayres book, Enticing Hard-to Reach Writers. She shares many practical solutions for connecting with and motivating writers – reminding us that little things matter. She focuses on the processes and needs of writers and how we can support all the writers in the classroom. We need to remember our job is to listen and provide for the needs of our students. She tells us not to ask them where their pencil is, “If they need a pencil, give them a pencil.” (21)
I truly believe these rituals, plans, and small things I do for myself as a writer matter. The disposition of a writer includes how to create a writerly life. In classrooms, I think a lot about developing the disposition of our readers. I have not focused as much on developing the dispositions of our writers. If we take time to set our students up with books, help them make a plan to read at home, and model our reading lives, then we should do the same for writing. Sharing not only our writing, but our writing lives will help our students become lifelong writers.
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year.