Last Wednesday ten teachers gathered in my family room. We came together in the spirit of inquiry. We came together around Joy Write. Our principal and I had read the book and were inspired to ask the question, “What happens when a group of teachers reads Joy Write?”
As everyone arrived, the air was light and relaxed. With the freedom that summer brings, we hung out and chatted and lived in the moment. As people made their way to the family room and got comfy on the couch or floor, I thought “This is amazing. These teachers are here voluntarily to talk, write, sketch, and discover.”
Our meeting began with each teacher sharing why they had come. They came for social reasons, they came because they were intrigued, they came because, well, it was a book by none other than Ralph Fletcher, and others came to explore.
“Writing is my least favorite subject to teach. Some units I love, the kids love, but some are just so hard.”
”Moving away from structured dictated way of teaching writing”
“Growing a network of teachers to talk to”
“In my “old” teaching, I was inspired by their writing. Looking to get inspired again.”
“It’s possible to have joy in our current curriculum”
“I do not like writing. It’s my weakest area. So whenever I teach it, I feel like I’m not good at it. Personally, I am not a strong writer.”
“All I know is the units of study. I don’t know any other way.”
“Not as much playing with words/language. I am intrigued yet concerned.”
The voices were filled with questions, concerns, passion, strengths, weaknesses. Their honest voices were heard. Then we stopped to write. We devoted time to writing to think. Each teacher took the time to explore his her own thoughts on writing, on writers.
I believe in writing to think. I believe that children need to spend lots of time in the writing greenbelt. It is where writers discover. I also believe that teachers need time in a greenbelt. Time where they can write to think and discover and problem solve in a safe space of their own. In Joy Write, Ralph Fletcher writes about a tweet he made that “struck a chord.” in the twittosphere. He tweeted, “We don’t teach students to write so much s create a safe space where they can teach themselves by doing.”
I believe that teachers need safe space to create, too.