Our counselor came and stood by one of our classroom bookcases today. Once again, I missed someone standing there. I was reminding my writers of the importance of voice as they quick draft tomorrow: how they use their Writer’s Notebooks as tool for thinking, their planning materials a bridge to support that thinking to their lined paper.
Tomorrow, we’ll omit our WNB and rely solely on our “map” to fuel our writing. We’ll draft in one sitting, aiming for retaining our voice and cohesion in our piece.
She stood there for quite awhile. Then I quickly wrapped up and got them going on their prep.
“We have a schedule change.”
She showed me the name.
I took a double-take and thought for a moment. Then shut my eyes and visible shrank where I stood.
“Oh, no.. Can she keep this and move this here?” I asked, pointing to my student’s schedule. The urgency in my voice communicating why she had to stay in my 5th period class.
“Mmm.. I’m so sorry, we’ve got to.”
“But she has a Writing Partner..they work together..”
Our counselor is the sweetest, sweetest, most professional woman. (All our Admin is great.) I knew it was impossible to describe the meaning behind that phrase Writing Partner in that 30-second conversation.
Even as adults, we have difficulty sharing our writing, because what we say on the page is intimately connected to our thoughts. Our writing is us. So when we finally have the confidence to let someone see what we’re all about, wow — what a cause for celebration.
My student had just reached the top of that mountain. It took us months and months to implement Writing Workshop with baby-step procedures for my lively, talkative 6th Graders. We had to navigate curriculum and standards, negotiate and tease TEKS from our Writer’s Notebook work, all while trying to give our Writing Workshop a pulse.
I’m talking real Writing Workshop — where you mini lesson for 10, get out of the way so the kids can work. This afternoon, I actually had a student who told me, “Teach, you’re going on 8 minutes now” — because I have repeatedly told them, I’m here to facilitate. I’m here to teach you how to manage your own time as writers. I’m here to introduce you to an almost infinite plethora of writing and thinking strategies, where you, the writer, in charge of your own destiny and the destiny of the words crafted on your page, get to decide.
It’s like almost the perfect role-playing game, writing is. Better than video games, if you can believe it!
So, here we are rocking the Writing Workshop, we’re finishing our planning this day — and tomorrow my student drafts alone. In a room with kids I’m sure she knows.. but without her writing partner.
At the start of Writing Workshop, one would pick up their Writer’s Notebooks and half-sheets (I try to keep paperwork brief) and walk over to the other’s desk — and without a word, they would silently scope the room for a quiet spot, to whisper, share, think and write together.
My heart broke when I heard she was being moved. It was totally, totally unexpected. But it would glorious.
It was a good wound to feel, to know that I had helped something grow between my students in their Writing Community. They figured out and knew that it’s possible to connect over ideas. That it was possible to share yourself.
Which is something we all struggle with, I think. Even as adults.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. .. after I work on figuring out how to keep these two connected.
To connect is life’s work.