It’s been a while since I did some writing for myself. I’ve written for Moving Writers and for a few others blogs, but I haven’t really written for myself in a while. The last time I really wrote anything meaningful was back in July. It was about an incident that happened at the pool that included my son, a bully, and a hope that the next time, things will be different. I still think about that piece.
I’ve often heard of reading and writing compared to breathing—when we read, we inhale, and when we write, we exhale.
I’ve been holding my breath for a while now.
I wouldn’t say I have writer’s block. I think the bigger problem for me has been having too much to write about and not knowing where to start.
So I’ll follow the advice that I give to my students and write—just write. Anything, something. And I guess starting with school, my students, my teaching, might be as good a place as any to start…
With Halloween around the corner, we’re at the point in the year where the adrenaline that accompanies the back-to-school excitement has worn off. The honeymoon period is over, and now the end-of-the-marking period crunch is here, along with the still-remaining college recommendation letters I need to write before the looming November 1st deadline.
That said, I really like my students this year. I’ve decided to make a more deliberate effort to get to know them better—to be more present in my classes, with my students, instead of “multi-tasking” my attention away. Last year, I felt pulled in so many different directions that I felt too distracted to do my best teaching. I want this year to be different.
So I started the school year by stealing this great idea for name tents with feedback. Every day for the first week of school, my students shared a little something with me and I wrote back. Reading and responding to more than a hundred kids was a lot, but it was worth it. I also spent more time this year doing more community building than I have in the past. I knew all of my students’ names by the end of that first week and got an immediate sense of the personalities and interests.
I also decided to continue the conversations we started during the first week of school and gather weekly feedback from students. So I set up individual discussion boards with each of my 9th graders using our district LMS (Schoology) and ask students to reflect on their learning from that week. It’s been really interesting to see what’s resonated with students, but more than anything, these small exchanges each week remind me of how much of a privilege it is to be a teacher and to be a part of their lives.
I felt that same privilege as I read and reviewed college essays with students these last few weeks, too. I think we sometimes underestimate the wisdom of young people because they’re young. But teaching helps me to remember.