Tuesday, March 4, 2014

4/31 I Still Don't Get It

Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers

I am a Twitter edchat addict. I admit it. I actively participate in several and I lurk around the corners of several others.

I try to be very open minded whether participating or lurking. It's hard to really understand context sometimes in 140 characters. But a tweet yesterday made me stop and write this post.

A high school English teacher tweeted that she didn't know how to teach writing.

I had to digest that.

I still don't get it.

A high school English teacher.

Doesn't know how to teach writing.

I immediately suggested Penny Kittle's Write Beside Them and Kelly Gallagher's Write This Way. These two books have transformed my Creative Writing Classroom.

And of course, this slicing community has spoiled me. Everybody writes!

I'm trying to understand. I'm trying to keep an open mind.

But I still don't get it.


  1. It sounds like the first writer is grappling with self doubt. I love the books you mentioned. I also like Writing Deeper. I hope the other writer finds inspiration.

  2. Well, let's look at the positive, at least the person admitted it so maybe he/she wants guidance and help? I have the same reaction to teachers who say they don't like to read, it was a 1st grade teacher one time. I thought, "You shouldn't be teaching," but I said, "Then we will have to work hard to find a book you do love."

  3. Yes, this person was looking for help. I have to admit, I always liked to write, but I was never instructed on how to teach writing beyond the mechanical. Writing workshop opened a whole new world to me and my teaching changed. When asked by my principal one day, "How's it going?" I said, "I was learning a lot!" He then said, "How about your students?" They were learning, too. I was giddy with excitement about my new found methods.

  4. I get not feeling that you know how to teach writing - I did many years ago. However, I when I recognized that in myself I immediately began reading everything I could find and teaching myself what to do. I hope this person does that.

    1. Exactly! I don't think I will ever stop reading books about how to be a better ELA teacher- there are so many kids to reach and they all take a different path to get to!

  5. This comment totally makes me think of the content teacher who says, "I don't know how to teach reading," or even worse, "I don't have to teach reading." Hmmmm. Maybe the statement, tinged with wonder, is the first place of growth? -- Until then, it may be that a person don't know enough to even see that there is another side to a topic... Nice. ARGH!

  6. I'm not sure my teachers ever knew how to teach writing either. In high school there were two teachers who experimented with "creative writing". One was pretty effective and motivating, the other... well, she wanted us to be creative but not very. I remember getting a paper back marked up with red pen crossing out all the times I'd repeated a phrase. I'd done it intentionally, I'd thought to bring home a point. She saw it as not knowing how to write different kinds of sentences, I guess. I remember being very angry... I hope this teacher reads the books you have suggested and pursues her issue of not feeling like she knows how to teach writing. Admitting it is the first step to excellence!

  7. Oh, and I absolutely LOVE that Cormier quote!

  8. Thanks for the quote, Deb. My response: I have a couple of colleagues who tell me how much they hate writing, and teaching about poetry-dread April coming around-argh! I am speechless! Thanks for bringing it up! If anyone has answers, please share.

  9. Go figure... what blows me away is that these people feel that it's somehow totally okay to feel this way! Arghh!!

  10. I think it was kind of you not to show your reaction but offer resources instead.

  11. Wow, as scary as it sounds, at least she is being honest and open to suggestions for help! (I'm more worried about the ones who THINK they know how to teach and never look for help or improve their practice!) Love your plug for the writing community, "Everybody writes!" I truly believe teachers need to be connoisseurs of daily reading and writing! Also, love that quote too. Going on my pinterest board! :)

  12. I'm sure that she is not the only teacher out there who doesn't "get it". You were very astute in giving her some direction. She just needs to find the right mentor to get her on track.

  13. I think the world of teaching has changed as the world of technology has exploded. It is a blessing for us to have so many resources at the "touch of a finger", but it is hard to teach kids to write who read reluctantly at best or not at all.