02 May Slice of Life: Nothing Less Than Daily #SOL17
Recently, I surprised myself by taking a different stand. I was working with a leadership team as they set goals and designed an action plan for literacy next year. The district is planning to shift to a workshop model for reading and writing. Change is always stressful – no one finds it easy. In the past, when districts determined goals I stayed quiet when they decided to set a goal of having reading and writing workshop three times a week for the first year of implementation.
I stayed quiet because I wanted to be sensitive to the time commitment of learning something new. I didn’t want teachers to feel overwhelmed. I used to talk about real, but achievable goals. Last week I changed my tune. I couldn’t live with anything less than daily. This change is not because I want to fit in more units of study or pace instruction more quickly. It is not to raise test scores or lift the quality of reading and writing. It is not to be rigorous or raise expectations.
I changed my tune because, for the first time, I considered the impact of the frequency on the readers and the writers. They need to have workshop daily in order to engage purposefully and meaningfully. They need to plan to read and write every day so it becomes a habit. When you read and write every day, you live the life of reader and a writer. It becomes who you are – your essence.
I attribute this shift to the Slice of Life March Challenge. I participated in this challenge for the past two years. It changed my thinking on writing and reading. I cannot articulate the impact of daily writing on my stance as a writer. When you know you are going to write every day, you live differently. I was amazed both years how easy it was to write for thirty-one days. For me, the hardest transition is shifting back to writing weekly. In March, I have so many topics to choose from – you get in a groove and the writing flows.
I imagine it is the same for our students. If they don’t write daily, they will lose momentum. They won’t live a writerly life – planning to write as they go about their daily lives. It doesn’t matter if our lessons are perfect, our students need to write daily. They need to write with voice, purpose and choice. Even if it is messy – it is better to let them write. Change is hard, but we need to remember our students are actually making the biggest change. We need to provide them with the optimal conditions to make this change. The only way to be a reader and a writer is to read and write every day.