Lately I have seen versions of this phrase used over and over again (mostly in Slice of Life blogs!):
In order to be a teacher of writing, one must be a writer.
While I was unable to participate in the SOL monthly challenge, I love the fact that so many educators came together to share their own writing publicly. I love writing and I agree wholeheartedly in the belief that good writing teachers consider themselves writers, just as reading teachers are readers. And I believe that every teacher, regardless of their content or students’ ages, are teachers of reading and writing (and speaking and listening!).
So why doesn’t every teacher have a blog? Why aren’t there more teachers sharing what they read and write with students and colleagues? I believe that many teachers have a fear of writing.
Most of us were taught to write using formulaic structures, such as the dreaded five paragraph essay, that have little to no significance in our adult lives. Or we were forced to write poetry or irrelevant texts using very specific structures or in response to teacher-created prompts. The writing I did as a young student does NOT resemble anything I do now as a professional, a doctoral student, or for fun.
I had the amazing experience of attending the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing summer workshop as a teacher with a friend and colleague many years ago. We were recently reminiscing about the experience and wondering how we might view writing today if we hadn’t had that opportunity. As leaders and learners, we both realized that we would have still come to a different understanding about the nature of teaching writing even without the experience, but we were lucky not to have to go through that struggle on our own. Ever since that time, I have kept my own reading and writing journals. As a teacher and coach, I shared what I was reading and writing with my students and the teachers with whom I worked. As a leader now, I share through twitter, this blog, email, newsletters, and in our own workshops.
But how often do most teachers have opportunities to share their own reading and writing? What can we do to ease the anxiety so many people feel about writing? How can we support our colleagues so that they, too, consider themselves writers?
This year I wanted the coaches in my district to gain experience with both Twitter and blogging. I created opportunities for the coaches to participate in a very structured, guided, supported Twitter chat and a blog-writing workshop, to help them in this process. With support, they were each able to experience first-hand participation in a Twitter chat and with writing their own blog post. I am happy to say that the twitter chats have continued monthly since that first experience. The blogging, however, was a one time deal for many of the participants. It is my hope that our coaches, just like our teachers and students, see themselves as writers with something to contribute.
- What have you written lately?
- How are you contributing to the world as a writer?