If you asked me about my success in school as a child, it would be a short, sad story. If it wasn't for my high school math teacher, Mr. Kisken, I probably would never have been accepted into college. I didn't have the best high school GPA but Mr. Kisken got me. I had him for three of my four years of high school math. He took things slow in his explanations and trusted the process. He created his own practice worksheets with a less is more philosophy. He also knew that academics weren't everything.
Mr. Kisken loved photography and would come and take pictures of his students during sporting events. For me, this is where I shined. I was fast, versatile, and could read the field well. And Mr. Kisken captured those moments while I played lacrosse. It was also those moments that he wrote about in my college recommendation letter.
He took time to get to know his students; their interests and their strengths.
And a few times a year I find myself thinking about him.
This school year I have the opportunity to teach writing to all four sections of fifth grade. I have never been so happy! Each day during Sacred Writing Time I learn a little more about my students, and they learn a little more about me. It is through our sharing process that helps create more depth in our writerly community.
We recently created a heart map during one of our brainstorming sessions. I knew when I read it about twice within a week (Two Writing Teachers and Aimee Buckner), I had to put it into action. So all four sections created a heart map, and I had the opportunity to create one too.
Four different times.
You see when my students write for Sacred Writing Time, I write.
We are currently building our writing stamina and are up to six minutes of uninterrupted writing time.
There are rules.
Don't stop writing.
The whole time.
And if you stop, your pencil needs to be in your hand and you need to reread your work to figure out what you can add until I say, "Finish the sentence you are on. Not the sentence you are on and three sentences after that, but the ONE you are on."
So we write.
You will usually find me in a spot where someone should be, but he/she is absent. I like doing this because my students see ME writing. (And they want to impress me).
Then. We share.
This is... my favorite part. As the days turn into weeks more students are coming forward and sharing. It is during this precise time that I feel as though I am getting to know my students in their own lives.
Today I learned that one student had to put her dog down recently.
I learned that one student enjoys playing musically.
I learned that one student was stung by five bees at once.
I learned that one student thoroughly enjoyed her field trip to the aquatic center in fourth grade.
And the list goes on...
But did I mention that I get to write?
Four different times in one day.
Four different stories.
And my students get to learn a little about me.
One class learned that my daughter shoved a Polly Pocket shoe up her nose when she was four.
One class learned that my other daughter fell head first on a cement floor while wearing roller skates. And yes, it wasn't pretty.
One class learned that I am not as invincible as I think I am and that was proven true when I threw my back out.
And the last class learned about my fear of diving off diving boards.
Just like Mr. Kisken, I have learned to trust this process.
Sacred Writing Time is just that.
I will never compromise it.
But it is also a process that takes time to develop.
And it is with this process that will help these students realize what amazing writers they are capable of becoming.