Dedicating every Wednesday to creative writing instruction takes commitment. Rearranging the schedule in order to maintain weekly writing when unexpected events chip away at instructional time takes commitment. Taking a little longer than usual to get through our literature units in order to give space to writing takes commitment. Sometimes, its easy to forget why that commitment is so important. So today, I’m going to celebrate my “why.”
Why Writing Wednesdays?
- One of my sophomores came into my room one morning to ask if she could snag her Writer’s Notebook, which she usually stores in my classroom, so that she could do some extra writing outside of class. Excitedly, she told me that she had never considered herself a writer. Until Writing Wednesdays.
- At a recent parent-teacher event, one of my senior parents told me that she didn’t know what I had done to her son, but she had never seen him so excited about writing before. This came after he had taken his Writer’s Notebook home one evening, revising a draft piece, typing it up, and proudly sharing it with her.
- At the same parent-teacher event, another of my parents told me that when she asked her son what his favorite subject was this year he said: Language Arts. On Wednesdays.
- The Writing Teams have bonded so well over the course of our time together that many of these students have taken to sitting with their Writing Teams during all of our classes even when they have the option to sit with their other friends.
- And speaking of comradery, during our most-recent Writing Wednesday class, one of my Writing Teams was so determined to ensure that all members of the Team had time to read out their drafts that they delayed the next set of whole-class instruction until the readings were complete. Why was it taking them so much longer than the other Teams to complete the share-out? Because all of their writers had written so much!
I recognize that these are little victories and that not all students may have the same reaction to Writing Wednesdays as the ones showcased here. But what is so important is that each of these examples highlight victories for the students, not the teacher. These are students who may have been left behind by conventional approaches to literacy instruction. The student in the first example literally confessed that she had never viewed herself as a writer until she was given an opportunity to write regularly. The parents in the second and third example were speaking of their children who had never shown any meaningful enthusiasm for English class until this year. And the students in the fourth and fifth examples were among the many who initially groaned at the idea of working with the same set of students for the entire year and – worse – having to read their writing out loud to them! After only a handful of weeks, they already trust and rely upon each other for their growth as writers. And that’s a key point – they are relying upon each other, not their teacher. They are gaining independence while crafting authentic writing pieces that they can feel proud of.
Dedicating every Wednesday to creative writing instruction takes commitment. Rearranging the schedule in order to maintain weekly writing when unexpected events chip away at instructional time takes commitment. Taking a little longer than usual to get through our literature units in order to give space to writing takes commitment. But the more weeks that pass, the easier it is to remember why that commitment is so important.