Yesterday was a pretty good day.
And it was also the day that I asked my students to reflect on their experiences in writing workshop this year. I told them of my respect and admiration for them as humans, as writers. I told them how amazing it was to enjoy the process of writing alongside them this year. I told them that we’re going to have the chance to continue this work together next year, and I want their experience next year to honor their strengths and needs.
Here are the questions I asked:
How did you grow as a writer this year?
What did you learn from reading one another’s writing?
Describe your ideal writing workshop.
Looking ahead to next year, how would YOU like to grow as a writer?
I first used breakout rooms on Zoom (sigh. Always ZOOM) to let the kids discuss answers to these questions, to gather ideas and perspectives. I then gave kids a solid 20 minutes to complete the questions on Google Forms. And by 20 minutes, I MEANT 20 minutes. I told students they were not allowed to submit their survey before I gave the OK. If they reached a stopping point, they could stop, or think, or daydream, but I wanted the survey open for other thoughts that “trickled in” over the course of that 20 minutes.
I’m glad I did.*
My students brought it. And why shouldn’t they have? They’ve been bringing it every day we’ve been together.
As I read through their responses, I saw so many common threads, so many take-aways. I’m sharing a couple of highlights because they make me so happy.
On what we want writing workshop to look like, kids envisioned:
-Calm. Quiet. Peace.
-Solitude when needed.
-Collaboration when needed.
-Pens and paper and clipboards and fuzzy pillows and seating options.
On what we learned from sharing our work:
-We never gave enough credit to the skills of other writers.
-Other people have very different writing styles.
-Reading other people’s work made us want to write better.
-We’re better at giving and receiving feedback
On how I can help them learn and grow, students envision that I’ll be:
-Teaching specific writing skills
-Giving them the “push” they want and need in zones of discomfort
-Showing them text that mirrors the aspects they want to use in writing
This is just the tip of the iceberg, friends. I asked my kids to stop, to imagine, to dream about what writing workshop could be. They’ve given me so much to think about over the summer. And while summer canNOT come fast enough, I’m already looking forward to next year.
*(If we’re being 100% real, YES. There were plenty of kids who probably filled out the survey in four minutes and pretended to work longer. This is a COVID year. And it’s June. And Zoom. I’ll take what I can get.)
Today’s post is part of the weekly Slice of Life Challenge. Check them out!