Sitting at the High School basketball game yesterday I was just checking my Facebook before things got started and came across a picture on our team’s social media page. They always have past alumni give a pep talk before the game. When we are at home the talk always happens in one of the coaching staffs classrooms. It is a grade 2 classroom so the literacy teacher in me always has a good chuckle when I see the speaker standing in front of their Word Wall or other “best practice” literacy-related items. Yesterday the speaker in the picture did not stick out to me so much as what was written on the board behind him.
Agenda Message: We are Learning to Write Stories
I am not sure why at first this popped out at me, it could have been just the fact that while someone was giving a speech to a group of kids about their goals for the night a completely unrelated message sat on the board behind him but regardless the little note stuck out at me. “We Are Learning to Write Stories” when thinking about this school journey and specifically writing I can’t help but wonder if the whole approach to writing should be not just learning to write stories but learning to write OUR stories.
This week I have been marking, it is the story of this procrastinators life. I love to talk about the writing of my students, share it, provide in the moment feedback, build writers who write because it is fun and not for a grade, not for that “High Honours” distinction. Those extrinsic motivators should be the cherry on top, not the entire sundae. I was reading one student’s health-themed 5 paragraph essay (I know, this is out-dated but required) she only had 4 paragraphs and spoke about anxiety but it was a beautiful piece of writing. The scientific and research-based things where present of course but the power was not in reading about the medical effects of the technical definition of anxiety. The power in the writing was in becoming a window into this students life, her struggles with anxiety, what happens when she is in situations she is forced to socialize or try new things. The writing was about anxiety and its impact on mental health. The story was her own. It was powerful and gave a different perspective on a student that I visit with daily and had not yet been introduced to that part of her journey.
There is so much more to our students than we know. We get bits and pieces and maybe with some of our students we get a bit more but their stories are not open books. They struggle at home, with friends, and at school and we often only see the latter.
I want writing to become a reflection tool in my classroom to build a collection of our stories. To build a trust that we are safe to share with each other. Our community can only grow by building on empathy built around beautiful words. One word, one sentence, one page at a time writing our stories.