Dear Writing Teachers,
Alas, the end of September is soon approaching.
Every year, September is my best month. The month when I am the star of the writing classroom. All month your students have opened me and I’ve captured their joys and sorrows, wonderings and concerns, noticings and plans. They’ve filled me with the best parts of them, and I can be the fuel for all the writing yet to be… Yet I fear as the breeze turns cooler and the leaves begin to turn, my shiny newness and joy may fade, and I will be lost to the dark cavern otherwise known as the back of the desk. So this is my plea…
Please don’t forget me!
I realize that as you move into studies of all types of writing and genres that it’s easy to put me away. Yes, you may use me for a bit as kids come up with ideas or even to fill me with the planning they do for each piece they plan to publish. You may even make organizers in me for this work. But remember that while I can hold some of these things, that is NOT my purpose.
I am a place of dreaming. A place of hopes and ideas and knowledge and play. I am meant to hold life, not work.
So in an effort to save myself, I am offering a few suggestions on how you can keep me close all throughout the year. While I know every classroom is different, I pray that you take me up on one or two…
1. Make me part of your morning. While “Do Now” worksheets may help to make the room a quiet place for lunch counts and morning tasks, I must ask, “Aren’t I more important than yet another worksheet?” For I can become the seed that helps to grow the next great novel or at least next week’s essay. Not that I’m a “have to” for everyone, but I’d like to be invited as a option. Think about it.
2. Carve out some time for me, even if you have to steal it. I know writing time is sacred and we all feel that there’s never enough, but I’m important too! It’s okay to give yourself permission to steal a few moments from your workshop or shared writing or other parts of your day to fill me up. I may help out later.
3. Send me home. Not as a assignment, but instead send me home because that is the way that writers live. Invite kids to bring me places and know that writers fill up their notebooks because they really see the world.
4. Help me multiply. If you’re going to send me home, you might as well send home one of my blank cousins for a mom or dad or family member to write in as well. I know not all families will take up the invitation, but maybe a few will. My cousin and I dream of quiet family writing time, where writers fill up our pages at the dining room table.
5. Try out peace time. I’ve seen this beautiful time set aside in a few classrooms. Picture this… It’s right after lunch and the kids bustle into the classroom with a strange wild energy. The teacher puts on some music, puts out some yoga mats, and invites kids to use a few moments to settle. Some may draw. Others may stretch and relax. Some may choose me.
To be honest, how you find the time for me matters little. Just please do.
With hope and sincerity,
Your Writer’s Notebook