On twitter, I have been obsessed with the hashtag ncte15, which refers to the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference.
Truth #1--I have never attended this conference. I long to, but November is a difficult time of the year to be gone from my classroom, especially this year. Our staff is taking an International Baccalaureate class and already having to miss 8 teaching days this year. That is kind of a lot. It is hard to justify missing even more days.
But anyway, I follow along on "the" twitter (as my kids call it), looking for those gems about teaching reading and writing to young children, hoping someone out there will say something I truly believe in so I can give a virtual fistbump of solidarity through my computer screen. Hoping someone will say the things that sometimes I am afraid to say.
Because sometimes I am afraid to say things that I really think. Like this:
Truth #2--Even though I write a lot, even though I have published books, I am not an expert on the teaching of writing. I have no magic gadgetries, no perfect 5 step lesson plan, no cute template that makes children produce amazing, thoughtful responses on a writing prompt every time they attempt it. The more I am in the classroom every day with my students, the more simple everything becomes. If you want children to write, you must allow them to do it. You must encourage it. You absolutely MUST give them time. Time to succeed. Time to fail. Time to reflect. Time to actually LEARN.
Truth #3--And you must try not to do things in your teaching that have the exact opposite effect you are going for. When you make a child feel like less of a writer, guess what? She becomes less of a writer.
It is so affirming to read snippets of presentations on the twitter that mirror these thoughts. My teaching heart is bursting.
So anyway, a big shout out to all of the NCTE folks who are both living the dream and keeping it real. Perhaps someday, I'll manage to attend a conference and hear Donalyn Miller and Lucy Calkins in person. But for now, know that if you are sharing your special moments via twitter, via #ncte15, your reach is very far. You are having an impact on my teaching.
By sharing your thoughts and reflections, you are making a difference in the life of this teacher.