1. Describe your first memory of writing. Describe your overall feeling associated with this first writing memory.
Most say they were very young - before they entered formal schooling. Most say they received affirmation from a family member. In other words, they considered themselves good writers and felt their writing was valued!
2. Do you consider yourself a good writer? Why? Why not?
Most say they feel they lack creativity, appear amateurish, have difficulty getting their ideas across, and while they would like to writer better, they do not know how. Most say they do very little writing other than what is required for work, graduate school, and home. In other words, they doubt themselves as writers and with a lack of confidence comes a lack of writing.
Authentic purpose, authentic audience, and celebration of work - all are required for writers to grow. I find it incredibly sad that the good work started at home (and grandma's house, and preschool, and church, etc.) is too often thwarted when children enter kindergarten. To have memories of writing in elementary school centered on handwriting practice, copying from the board, responding to a writing prompt with a set time to complete the task, and red ink applied liberally in dissatisfaction is tragic and unnecessary. Children arrive at school eager to share their stories with others. This enthusiasm should be grabbed with gusto and used as a springboard to propel them forward as writers ...
My hope is that ALL TEACHERS will:
a) capitalize on children's desire to express themselves
b) let children write...daily...about what matters most to them
It is, actually, quite a simple process to grow writers (of all ages):
1. Share quality texts and help children notice amazing things authors do with words to impact readers - be explicit in teaching these writing moves (author's crafts) and encourage students to "have a go".
2. Accept approximations - Just as children do not start out walking and talking with "perfection", they do not write with "perfection" all at once either. To grow requires taking risks...provide a risk-friendly writing environment.
3. Provide time for children to share their written pieces with others - they need to see that their words have the power to effect others. Authentic praise is the nudge that writers need to "keep going".
I know my graduate students will grow in confidence as writers across the semester, but my deepest desire is that one day, on the first night of class, I will hear most of my process writing graduate students answer this question with a resounding YES! Until then, I press on toward the goal of empowering writers, promoting ownership of authorship, celebrating steps taken toward living writerly lives, and cheering efforts to facilitate the writing lives of their K-12 students.