Noticing is a courageous verb. It lends itself to looking at the world with fresh eyes, to contemplate surroundings and experiences, and to discovery. Noticing slows us down, allows our eyes to shift from focused to out of focus, without pressure or anxiety. There are no expectations with noticing--except the act of looking. Noticing possesses great power; it allows us to be in the moment, without judgment, and vulnerable.
The problem is, I have to constantly be reminded to notice.
My notebook absorbs my noticings. When I take time to notice, I observe more, and there’s more material with which to work as a writer. I love to return to these notes and sketches, to study and to question. When I do remember to share my process with students, my vulnerability shows, and students see me as a writer. I become a novice again. This creates a space where we learn alongside one another--a space for writers.
It’s not easy to remember to notice. At times, our minds are muddled with everything else we expect ourselves to pay attention to. I definitely am guilty of getting caught up in the ongoing noise that surrounds us as teachers of writers. Noticing takes work. When I notice along with my students, they begin to notice, too. I’ve discovered that when students revisit these noticings throughout the year--they realize that they are real writers.
The magic that “noticing” wields:
- students judge themselves less during our sacred time with the page
- when we notice what glimmers on the page, excitement is a wildfire
- conferences with students become the heartbeat of our workshop
- our revision is more focused and less overwhelming
- one word, one phrase, can lead us to our next powerful piece
- taking risks with writing is what we do (not what we avoid)
- Our focus can shift to the big picture: we are ever-evolving as individual writers
Noticing is courageous in that it helps us see we are novices all over again when we approach the page. I notice when I allow myself as a writer to be raw in the classroom, this empowers students. It takes practice--this noticing.
Crystal Kelley is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has taught there, in Syracuse, New York, and now in San Marcos, Texas. She currently learns alongside her 9th and 10th grade English and AVID students. She is a teacher consultant with the Central Texas Writing Project at Texas State University, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. In 2016, she was named Region 13’s Secondary Teacher of the Year. When Crystal is not doing teacherly things, she is playing outdoors with her three kids, squeezing in time to write, and cooking with her husband. Find Crystal @cryskelley9 on Twitter and student writing at www.mrskelley9.edublogs.org.