8/365 - Kid Writing

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The thing I love the most about my new job this year is that I work with amazing teachers and administrators who are beyond dedicated to their students and their success. For those of you who envy teachers for all their time off during the holidays, Spring Break, and Summer, I just wish you could see the emails and texts I get from these "on-vacation-people"...during breaks.

They plan. They worry. They rearrange their classrooms to accommodate the girl who broke her leg and is in a wheel chair. They travel miles out of their way to help students who are home-bound. They grade, and they regrade. They learn something new that will help the kids in their care. They buy things that will make their kids more motivated...or that will make their kids smile...or that will keep their kids warm when it's cold outside. I see it this year more than I have ever seen it before, and it makes me proud of our profession.

The thing I miss the most about my new job this year is reading 140+ samples of eleven-or-twelve-year-old-kid writing, because there really isn't anything else that makes me smile quite the same way that kid writing does...

"Write a thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic flavored chewing gum for a gift."

Wickedly dry humor. Love.

And if you have ever played Monopoly, you completely get this. If you've ever played Monopoly with an 8 year old, your heart cringes just a little.

When their creativity goes in the exact direction in which you hoped it would, you celebrate...right alongside the student of the moment!

Any chance I have to let a kid show their creativity is magical for me. Their minds? The sky is the limit. When they start asking questions (like "is it okay if I write about....?" and "could I do this with my writing?..." and "is this for a grade?"), then the moment of magic becomes watered down because everyone suddenly becomes aware that creative writing opportunities are so few and far between that we don't actually know exactly what to do with them or whether or not our ideas are "acceptable." Kids generally feel more comfortable with boundaries provided for their writing (paragraphs must have 4-6 sentences, you must indent but you shouldn't skip lines, your first paragraph is an introduction, your last paragraph is a conclusion, and you must include dialogue, transitions, figurative language [in the form of a complex running metaphor], and only writing that illustrates a deep understanding of stylistic elements will be considered for grading...blah, blah, blah...and spelling counts...), and I cannot tell you how much I wish that wasn't the case.

There are a few very rare moments where you can truly harness a middle schooler's creativity and give them free reign in the direction in which their creativity leads them.

When I find moments like that, I usually just put a smile on my face, hang on tight, pull my hair back, and enjoy the ride!


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