Connection is the product of investment: somethings only makes sense from the inside.
As teachers, when fostering a growth mindset, we can’t just look through the window at other peoples’ efforts. In this case, the “people” I am referring to are our students.
It’s different on the inside.
Consider this line of thinking:
- Are you on the inside?
- Do you think it is easier to teach from within?
- Is identifying and then mentoring student writers in a conference more manageable from the inside?
- Do teaching points come more naturally while navigating on the inside track, alongside your students?
- Is pedagogical dialogue more effective to have with colleagues who are on the inside?
If you answered yes…consider why this is true?
Understanding what goes on, on the inside…as a learner, as a reader, and as a writer is critical to the growth and success of both the teacher and the student.
Contemplate this. You are trying to lose 15, maybe 20 pounds and your best friend tries to give you advice. The only problem is, she doesn’t have any weight to lose…nor has she ever even had to think about how many calories she consumes in a day! Do you even listen to her? Her advice may make sense, but you are annoyed by it…by her. She says she’s seen every Dr. Oz show on weight loss and she knows how it works…but does she really? What personal experience does she have with trying to lose weight? The answer is -none.
The same holds true with what we teach. Does our knowledge of writing far exceed our experience of it? Do we “teach” kids how to write without ever picking up the pencil and writing ourselves? Now I’m not just talking about modeling a conclusion, a hook, or a detailed sentence or two that we magically craft in front of our students. No, I’m talking about the nitty-gritty, down and dirty of process writing alongside our students, step by messy step.
Writing in perfect form in front of or out of view from our students and then utilizing our work as an exemplar sends a false message of what writing is really like. It isn’t neat, pretty, or wrapped in colorful paper, topped with a bow. Writing is raw, personal, unpolished, and a constant work in progress. Affording students the opportunity to see us struggle, to hear what we wrote last night in our writers notebook (what we really wrote), to watch as we turn page after heart-felt filled page of beautiful imperfection, to see us find a line we fiddled with from last month’s poetry unit and fit it perfectly into the narrative we’ve been working to craft is the good stuff! The real stuff. Raw, authentic and true to what the process actually looks like…warts and all.
This transparency of thought and vulnerability of intention demonstrates the elbow grease that earns us the right to teach in a conference. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, but we’re also still doing it! It gives students a sense of, “I can do this too!” And as a result, it consequently makes us better writers and better teachers of writing. Our rewards can be found in the empathetic ear we now possess as we listen and coach from “within” when conferencing with our writing cherubs! Teaching points will become clearer as we carefully reflect upon each unique student piece, and the next steps that will feed each writer forward will flow from the hands-on, experienced, knowledgeable mind of the writer within us…all of this because we’ve crossed over from the other side. Welcome to their side. Welcome to the inside.
Hello from the Other Side…