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Writing Teachers Must Write

By Kristin Ackerman and Jennifer McDonough

Let’s begin with the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about… most teachers of  writing are not writing. Yep, we said it…out loud… it’s true!  Now, in their defense, these teachers have a lot of reasons that they do not write and several are very legitimate reasons.

To name a few…

  • Teachers are busy. Many are juggling multiple subjects and multiple classes.
  • Our schools are constantly adopting new programs so we often feel bogged down by all of the new things we need to learn.
  • We are drowning in grading, parent emails, faculty meetings, fire drill procedures etc.
  • Testing, testing, testing…need we say more.
  • There are little to no existing classes on teaching young children to write offered to teachers in college programs. Reading, math? Yes!  Writing?

As two teachers who are in the trenches we completely understand that it is not only challenging to make time to write but most of you reading this will have no idea where to even start to get the training and background on how to learn yourself.  Here are a few tips on how to make time to write, where to find mentors and why it will benefit your teaching.

  • Delegate drafting days in class. Sit with your students and write as if you were another student in the room.
  • Set aside one planning block a week for writing so that you are prepared to teach authentically.
  • Think about you’re drafts during the rare times that you have a few moments to yourself. When you go for a walk or when you’re getting ready for work. That thinking time is crucial for generating ideas. We like to jot our ideas down in a little mini notebook that we keep in our purses so that when we have time to write we can refer to our notebook to remember our ideas.
  • Get involved with other writing teachers and meet for coffee or wine to share different ways that you are squeezing in time to write and what you’re learning.
  • Find every professional resource you can on how to help kids become better writers. There are so many great professional texts out there to get you started.
  • Read, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or Writing Towards Home by Georgia Heard to inspire you to begin your own writing journey.
  • Start a personal journal of thoughts and ideas.
  • Create a personal or professional blog to try out your writing for others. Audience is everything and will keep you accountable but also give you purpose.

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