It’s amazing what I can learn from just the first few interactions I have with my students at the beginning of the year. It seems that my students have lots of opinions on writing. I am eager to learn about what excites them about writing, as well as what they are not thrilled about in the writing world as well. Learning about them in these ways will help guide me in personalizing instruction for them as the year progresses.
Each year, I ask students to fill out a “Writing Interview,” and though it may get buried under paperwork for a few days, I always look forward to finding the little gold “nuggets” in order to learn about my students as writers. When I study these writing surveys, I am particularly interested in ways that my students feel I can help them grow as writers during the school year.
Here is some advice they have given me about how to be a good writing teacher, based on a writing interview that I asked them to fill out:
*Help me think of topics easily for writing workshop.
*Help me with my handwriting/cursive writing.
*Teach me useful English words in writing.
*Show me some good writing pieces.
*Read me challenging books
*Talk to me about punctuation and capitalization.
*Make me write and read more often.
*Ask me to write about different topics.
*Teach me everything you know as a teacher and book author.
*Spend a little time on writing every day.
*Teach me a larger vocabulary.
*Let us choose what we want to write about.
*Challenge me to write in different genres.
*Give assignments for writing, like writing reports.
*Help me like writing more.
*Let us write a lot.
*Read my work and give me suggestions on how to improve.
*Inspire us and help us mold our writing into masterpieces!
*Teach me to express myself better.
*Keep reading books aloud so I can get more ideas.
*Help me pick good topics that are not already taken.
*Explain how to “mix genres" in a story to make the story more interesting.
*Help me to learn more specific words/details.
*Help me learn how to write a mystery story.
*Help me to learn to spell better.
*Help me use descriptive words.
*Teach me how to write a good plot.
It’s clear that I have a lot to do with my students this year in writing workshop, but I love these examples and forthright comments as beginning conversations toward guiding students to becoming better writers. Listening to kids share what they need as a writer is often a great first step. I look forward to implementing these suggestions into my mini lessons throughout the year.
I saved the best for last. In response to what I can do to be a good writing teacher, one student simply wrote,
“Do whatever you can do.”
I endeavor to do that, and much more.
Here's to a great year in Writing Workshop!