Monday, June 25, 2012

Slice of Life – Writing Communities

 Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

I’ve just returned home from another wonderful conference in Warsaw, Indiana – All Write. I went last year on a whim. I had met a few people on Twitter and we all decided to go. I looked at the presenters and was impressed; so many of my favorite authors for professional development were going to be there. It was more amazing than I had imagined.

See, the presentations were excellent. Jeff Anderson, Terry Thompson, Cris Tovani, Katie Wood Ray. My mind spun. My company was amazing too. Friends from Twitter I had spoken to over the past two years. I left All Write last year with a burning desire to write.

NCTE in November gave me more of this feeling. It’s the reason this blog began. The first post on here goes into some detail about it. I remember being so nervous to write the first post. I wasn’t sure what others would think of my writing. Would my voice come through? Was there something I really needed to share beyond what was already out there?

And now I’ve just come home from my second time at All Write. As always, I learned a ton. One thing that really got me thinking was from Donalyn Miller’s session. She was discussing reading communities and how we need to teach kids the habits of strong readers because once they leave our safe haven of our classroom it isn’t as easy to keep reading. The people around you matter.

It was one of those moments where I was thought,  “That’s it!” I remember as a child I wanted to write but never thought my writing was good enough. There was no workshop model then at my school. The only writing we did was when it was assigned: topic assigned, rough draft, edited by teacher, final draft. I didn’t know any writers. I didn’t really believe I could be one.

Then I met all of these wonderful teachers. Some write for kids. Some write for teachers. Some write for their blog audience. All of them are amazing cheerleaders. And the funny thing, when I was around them, I began to believe I could write. I watched Penny Kittle pull out her writer’s notebook while sitting next to her at NCTE.  I listened to Donalyn Miller talk to Mindi Rench about her new book. I watched and absorbed many conversations around what friends were writing. And I began to write.

One year later I’ve written one hundred and forty three blog posts for my blog. There have been thousands of comments. I’ve written for Nerdy Book Club and Choice Literacy. I’ve written guest posts for friends’ blogs. My writing journal is becoming used more and more each day. I am part of Slice of Life and did the March challenge (and completed it!). I joined Teachers Write for summer writing. And I’m beginning to get serious about writing a book. I trace all of this back to the people I surrounded myself with. When surrounded by readers in the classroom, children become avid readers. Surrounding myself with writers I found the same to be true. I am grateful for my friends and grateful for this community. Let’s write!