All day, writing has been calling to me. The magic of the words unfolding, my thoughts becoming clearer, my ideas set to page, taking a life of their own. Ideas abound, swirling until I feel unsettled, craving the peace that inevitably arrives after the writing has happened. A picture book? A new book for educators? A blog post? A poem as I prepare to advise our slam poetry club starting tomorrow (wish me luck)? The urge to write is there even if the ideas are not fully formed, fully present, but the keys call my name as I sit in front of the fire, reflecting on today.
I wonder how many of our students have that urge? How many are called to write as they process the world around them? Search for their unique way to sift through the bombardment of images and thoughts that constantly surround us? How many feel the call of a pen, a journal, a keyboard, as a way to unpack and digest? As a way to create something that didn’t exist until they decided to create it?
I have said it before, but it bears repeating; in our eagerness to make sure that students can write well, are we extinguishing their very urge to write? To tell stories? To reflect? To process somehow?
When we ask our students who they are as writers, their answers lack little surprise; I am a writer who writes because I have to. I am not a writer. I hate writing. I am a writer who writes in school, that’s it.
“How many sentences do I need, Mrs. Ripp?”
“How long should it be?”
“I don’t know what to write…”
Not let me write.
Not can we write?
But why do we have to write? I will never use writing when I am… older…in my job…when I leave school. Fill in the sentence however you see fit.
So for the next four weeks, we will play with writing. We will form stories, journals, poems, plays, comics, whatever strikes our fancy as we take away the assessment. As we make a space every day to simply write. As we make a space every day to share what we wrote if we want to. As we make room for the conversations that need to surround the writing and the writers. As we strip away the to-do’s and search for the to-be’s.
As we discover perhaps not just who we are as writers, but more so who we want to be. As we search and perhaps even find a place for writing somewhere in our busy lives so that perhaps, just perhaps, their answers will not always be, “do we have to write?” but instead can be “Do we have to stop?”
If you like what you read here, consider reading my book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.