I am beginning a new writing project with my juniors tomorrow.  They are going to be looking at maps of places they love and using them to tell a story.  We’ve been doing writing in preparation for it for the last week, and I’m excited to see what my students come up with; they’ve impressed me so much in the last few weeks.

But I’m nervous too.  Not because I don’t think they can do it (I do).  Not because I don’t think they’ll like it (they won’t, at first, then they will).  I’m nervous because I’m committed to doing the writing with them.  So I, too, have to choose a place I love.  I, too, have to find maps of that place.  I, too, have to do all of the drafting and planning and revision that they do.  Usually I don’t mind writing with my students; I can churn out a literary essay or a memoir in my sleep.  But in this case I feel my students’ anxiety of limiting my choices, of choosing the wrong thing, of regretting my decisions.

I will stress tomorrow that the decision they make tomorrow is not final.  They will begin their planning and writing tomorrow, but they may realize the place they’ve chosen isn’t the right one for them.  I will model my thought process, talk about my fears, let them see my vulnerability.

If I’ve gained nothing else from the Slice of Life Challenge (and I think I’ve gained a lot of things, but more on that later), I’ve realized that writing is really all about being vulnerable.  I’ve written about things I was unsure of sharing, things I wasn’t sure how to say.  And nothing bad happened.  The world didn’t explode and people even reacted positively.  That’s something I want to be sure to model to my students during this process, more than grammar or organization or figurative language.  Writing is about taking risks and making mistakes.  That might be the most valuable lesson I give them this year.



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7 responses to “Writing

  1. Love your reflection tonight and good luck tomorrow! I think your juniors sounds pretty lucky to have this project to work through.

  2. What a powerful model you are presenting. I wish I had a teacher in school who had modeled how to be a writer! Good luck!

  3. Students really do react well when we are vulnerable and share our writing. May tomorrow be a positive, learning adventure for all of you.

  4. What an interesting writing assignment! I hope all of you enjoy the work and the process. “Writing is about taking risks and making mistakes.” So true! This is such a big idea, and not just in writing.

  5. That is a wonderful writing assignment. I wrote using that technique at Teachers College last summer. At first I was very nervous – I’m no artist. But as I started drawing my map of my grandparent’s house using my stick figures, story after story started flooding in.

    And writing with your students, showing that you are willing to take risks, will give them permission to do the same.

    Good luck! It will be wonderful.

  6. So true. Writing is a process of learning more than sentence structure or proper spelling; it is about nuances, storytelling and in doing so sharing something of ourselves with others. Thanks for modeling and being open for your students so that they can see a real writing process.

  7. Writing with our students brings it all to a whole new (better) level. It is great that you are already anticipating some of the potential pitfalls. How lucky your students are to have a teacher who writes!

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