Monday, October 21, 2013

National Day on Writing - Write to Connect

What does it mean to Write to Connect? I had to pause and think about that when I saw it was the theme for the National Day on Writing this year. What connections resulted from my writing?

Writing has formed many connections for me – blog readers have become my writing group. Encouraging me when I am worried that I don’t have what it takes. The comments, emails, tweets, and posts give me courage to write on when I lacked courage.

My students connect to each other through their writing. We share notebook entries and leave comments on post-its for each other – writing what inspires us, moves us, snippets we loved. This year we’re adding blogging to our writing – creating a larger audience to grow from. The students are a bit nervous about this, as am I, but I believe the payoff could be huge.
Sample journal I wrote in front of my students on an
issue that was bothering me.

Writing also formed a bond with my class last year and has already begun this year. Sharing my writing in front of them was scary – what if I couldn’t think of what to write? I felt naked – laying my soul bare at times to a group of fifth graders. I clearly remember sharing an idea or passage and you could almost feel the silence. And then their quiet comments would come, encouraging me, cheering me on, telling me I was brave. The more I shared, the more they shared back. Relationships grew over a river of words.

Before I was a teacher who wrote, I didn’t know the impact I was missing with my students. Occasionally I would write up something like I had asked them to write at home, never in front of them. I wish I could get those moments back.

Now I can stand there before them – tell them I am a writer. That we all have stories. Everyone’s story is important. Everyone’s story deserves to be shared. Our stories are woven through the classroom like an intricate spider’s web – binding us to each other. When one student moved from our classroom the other day, we had a hole in our web. Through tears I assured my students we would miss Ashanti, but she would not be forgotten. Joey looked at me and said, “Now we have one more piece to our story of our year together.” Yep, he gets it.

The connections we develop as a community of writers are real. Who will tell your story if not you? What will you write today? What will your students write?

If you have written on your own blog regarding how your students write to connect – or anything about writing in general – please leave your link in the comments below. Or, if you’d rather, just share your ideas in the comments. And on Twitter the hashtag is #write2connect to share your tweets today. Go forth and write!