For a recent professional development day, I pulled together a compilation of my favorite quotes to emphasize the importance of writing with our students. While all the quotes are inspiring, Donald Graves’ words stuck with me, “You can't ask someone to sing a duet with you until you know the tune yourself.” If I am to support my colleagues with writing instruction, I need to start writing regularly and be sure to encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Goal #1: I will try out different strategy lessons in my own writing.
I want to grow as a writer and be able to share authentic and personal use of strategies when supporting my colleagues. After all, if I don’t know the melody, how can I teach the song?
Many times when sitting side-by-side with educators, digging through resources like, Ralph Fletcher’s, Craft Lessons or Jennifer Serravallo’s, The Writing Strategies Book, I’ll come across a strategy lesson that makes me want to grab a pen and start writing. Instead of taking the time to do this, I continue with my day. I recently came across “Uh-oh, Uh-oh, Phew!” a strategy to help planning narratives, and thought back to how I have always struggled planning story endings. In the moment, I had a strong urge to stop and use the planning strategy, but the day got away from me, and I never tried it out. I realize I cannot let these moments pass, so in 2018 I promise myself to stop and take the time to try out strategy lessons that motivate me to write.
Goal #2: I will provide time for colleagues to write during professional development sessions.
At a recent session, I carved out time for sixty educators to write. The room was first full of excited chatter and then it simmered as we began to press pencils and pens to paper. Everyone was focused on writing, their writing. When the writing time was over, I heard, “Not yet!” and saw the writing pace quicken in an attempt to capture last thoughts. At the end of the session, a principal stopped me and said, “I haven’t written like this is some time. I am so excited about my story I am going home tonight to finish it!” The feeling in the room that day was contagious and all the motivation I need to ensure we write together more often. If we can encourage each other to write, we will create a harmonious community of writers who are able to carry a tune into their own lives and classrooms.
Heading into the new year, I will keep these two goals in tune. Thank you, #TeachWrite, for encouraging me to compose my 2018 theme song!
Adrienne Hoffer is an Instructional Coach and District Writing Committee leader for a K-8 district in Illinois. She can be found on Twitter @AWHoffer.
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