"It's been a few days since we've spoken and I was starting to miss you, " she said with tears in her eyes. The wind softly fluttered her hair across her face and I felt the urge to brush it away......
So I have been on an extraordinary journey lately...writer's college (and sappy love stories). As you may know, I teach second grade. You may ask, why are you taking writing classes, second graders can't write! Oh contrare, my friends. Not only can they write (ahem, up to 40 minutes sustained) but they can write well. As a first year teacher I have accepted this mission and as the journey began I was utterly frustrated and bewildered as to how to teach 7 year olds how to write.
We begin our journey into the abyss in August of this school year. My incoming second graders had some experience with writer's workshop so they knew what to expect. My district has adopted the Lucy Calkins Units of Study and the students begin the program in Kindergarten. That being said, my students were the first group that began in K. So here we are two years later and fine tuning the art of writing for primary grades.
When we began, I was sceptical. I looked at my kids and thought I was being punk'd. There was no way that by the end of the year these kids could write...sustained...for an hour! We started out small as I stumbled my way through the books (Units of Study) that are pre-scripted and each lesson spelled out for the teacher. I soon realized that the language in the book was cheesy and I could just read the lesson ahead of time and wing it. My students had no discipline as far as talking, staying seated and disrupting others.
After a month or so of struggling with them, I called in for backup. Each new teacher in our district is assigned a building mentor. Their job is to help me with basically anything I need help with. I felt pretty secure on most aspects of my curriculum...except writing. In addition, my principal offered that I may join the Teacher's College (through our district for professional development) Writer's Workshop training. This would require a little extra on my part, but well worth it in the long run.
As my mentor and I planned, practiced, and conferred, we whittled away at the behavior issues that stood between us and a classroom full of engaged 7 year old writers. Months passed and she showed me how to make the lessons my own. I took notes and she taught me how to conference with each individual student on a daily basis...get this...while the other children were writing! My first thought was that the minute I turned my back, someone would get hurt. But guess what? No one did and in fact, they continued to write!!
Amazing as it may sound, my kids that couldn't sit still and write their name on their paper just 6 months ago are now 'real' authors! As we published our most recent pieces today, a student said to me, "Mrs. T. I feel like a real author. Do you see how I revised this page? I'm so excited!" I smiled and walked away silently, because on the inside I was screaming screams of joy! Crying tears of accomplishment!
THIS is why I became a teacher! THIS is why I worked so hard to be where I am today! THIS is why I will come back tomorrow!