As I began thinking what I want my seventh graders to walk away with this year from the content that I am teaching, my mind continually goes to, “How will I get them to love writing?” I feel confident that I can get them to love learning in my classroom. I can build strong relationships to transform these students into empowered learners, but loving writing is a different challenge, a more personal challenge.
As a child, I loved writing things. My parents lovingly remind me that at the age of three I asked every person I saw their name, how to spell it, and I would write it in my journal. In fourth grade, I won a cultural arts award in the category of Composition from a story I wrote about my move from Illinois to Texas. I am writing this to say that as a child I enjoyed it, but somewhere along the way that enjoyment stopped. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that I could not write, I was not as good as others, I did not have anything to say, and I was being told what to write.
This feeling lasted many, many years. Actually, it wasn’t until two years ago when listening to an inspirational educator speak about blogging and the many reasons why that I began to write for me. (Thank you, George!) Yes, I was thinking about an audience as I wrote, but I felt inspired because I had found a way to get all of the thoughts that were spinning around in my head out. It was blogging! And it relaxed me. I enjoyed it! Even if no one else read them, I had found a way to share my thoughts, feelings, and have my voice heard.
It is this last reason that I feel is most important and I want my students leaving my classroom with this imprinted on their hearts. I want each one of them to know that they can write to let their voice be heard. They can do this as a kid, a teenager, and as an adult. It should never stop. It is hard being a kid, but especially hard during these teenage years when they have so many emotions and feelings that they are learning how to deal with and not sure who to talk to or if they even want to.
Side Note: It takes me back to when I was in middle school writing in my diary that I kept under my mattress, until my boyfriend discovered it. Gasp! Then in high school the diary I wrote in every single night was on a computer like this!
I have always loved typing, and until recently did not even realize that this was writing. This was my way of sharing my voice and feeling heard. Thankfully, a real person never heard it.
This is where I think the disconnect is in teaching writing and developing the love of writing in our students. Similar to reading, when we tell them what to write it becomes a job. When they are given time to write in meaningful ways to them, they learn all of those things we are required to teach them. And they actually remember them! I hope to share my love of writing for reflection and letting my voice be heard this year and that my sweet, precious students learn to do the same!