Friday, November 16, 2012

Teachers as Writers

I'm sitting with my people, Writing Project TC's, thinking hard about writing and the teaching of writing.

In a discussion of issues in professional development, we were talking about keeping the salient idea of writing teachers being writers themselves and the difficulty with all that K-12 teachers are asked to do in a day, of keeping that idea front and center.

And then I realized, writer though I am, I've been writing less and less as the semester moves on.

One reason is that I am stuck on my book proposal.  But that's an excuse because my writing group has really been helping me.

Another reason has been the time I've been spending on student papers.  But, that's an excuse.

My NaNo piece hasn't gotten any attention.

I promised my students an inquiry blog post based on some things they were helping me think about that is still in my drafts.

So . . . am I a writer?

Yes.  I'm in a spot in my life where I'm doing a lot of personal journaling.   Stuff that I'm not at all interested in sharing right now.  I write everyday.  That is what makes me a writer.  And this is making me think hard about how we can make the teachers that are writers more visible.  And how we can make classroom space for the very important habit of writing that isn't necessarily to be shared.  In school, and as writers, we do eventually need to move from private to public, but I'm wondering how we can also value this private writerl-y-ness . . .


  1. Personal journaling is writing. Writers doesn't matter if it's public or private. I was recently criticized/commented at by another staff member at my school when I was observed writing in my daybook while at my desk instead of grading or whatever other teacherly task I *should* be attending to. I suddenly felt small and ashamed because what I was doing in my daybook wasn't really going to be shared with others. It did happen to be thoughts about a conversation I had recently had with a student about her research paper topic. But either way, I think it's hard to make both physical and temporal space for writing when it is misinterpreted or seen as *playing*.

    Writing privately is part of my process whether the product is public or not. I value that for myself and I value that for my students. However, I think there is something about the keeping of daybooks that has felt threatening to some of the other teachers at my school. They have expressed suspicion at my students writing in the daybooks while not in English class. They have, with amused tone, mentioned that my students "fancy themselves writers." This reaction really stunned me. I would never have predicted or anticipated this. I was also asked how I could allow students to write private things in their daybooks. I explained that I respected my student's privacy and that my students understood how this worked at school. I got a blank stare in return.

    I don't think "private writerl-y-ness" is valued at all. I don't know how to be a teacher-writer who is more visible when these are the responses I get. Nevertheless, I will keep modeling my writing process for my students. They always love when I make notes about them, or our conversations in my daybook. Aren't they sweet?

  2. yep, I think Peter Elbow would be write with you, Cindy. Writing is not only be about a product about turning it in to whoever or even publishing on our blogs. Thanks for reminder.

  3. Christin and Lacy,
    Your immediate responses are reminding me that this is a part of what makes a person feel like a writer too.

    But back to your very honest response Christin - Wow. What power your personal writing has for your students in that context. You are really showing me here that yes oh yes, our personal writing, that may or may not go public is a part of being a writer, and a teacher who writes!

  4. From a students point of view, I would really like to have some writing that is on more of a personal level that and educational. Our daybooks are kind of like that and I enjoy that part of our class. I feel as if people are more likely to take risks in their writing when they are not necessarily writing for other people but for themselves. I think it would be great if personal writing was incorporated into the class.

  5. Well i apologize this could not be an immediate response, but better late then never i suppose.

    Now obviously what a student writes in english class needs to be graded every now and then, we need feedback from someone with more experience. But it is great that we have so much freedom to just write without a teachers eyes judging our thoughts. I feel you do a great job with letting us do this. And for that I'm thankful. Even though I only write a little here and there, even if it's not published, I'm a writer.