After Christmas break, we began our writing workshop. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some writing instruction going on in our classroom from the beginning of school. At the beginning of school, our Principal made it mandatory that for the first fifteen minutes of school every classroom in every grade would be reading. For the first couple of days, our students were read to on the carpet during that time in whole group, with the teacher allowing the students to answer and ask questions about the story and even tell a few stories of their own. After a few days, Mrs. Wyatt, the Kindergarten teacher I assist, and one who has years of teaching experience, opened the flood gate! Let the teaching begin!
It became apparent to me from the very beginning that Mrs. Wyatt understood the process of teaching writing and that being able to read played an important role in each student’s ability to write. She strategically placed reading material at each student’s desk and every morning for the required fifteen minute reading time, each student read their books. In our classroom we have writing opportunity during Daily Five for twenty minutes. At first and even still now as their reading material changes levels and they are required to write a sentence or two about their readings they would line up at my desk for assistance in pronouncing and spelling words. Since ninety some days have passed and they still try to line up but I send them back to their desk to use their learned skills in Phoneme awareness (e.g., ability to represent phoneme or sound segments in the spelling of short words), word recognition (ability to read a 10- word list comprised of “sight” words (e.g., is, and, the) and short-vowel words (e.g., lap, met, job). They learn most of this through Letterland. I said all this because in order to be a good writer they have to be able to read what they write.
As for myself as a Teacher Writer, it’s a work in progress. I am making progress toward my goal of being a Reading Specialist, which would require me to get over dreading and avoiding writing. My classes have helped me tremendously. I’ve been freed from the bondage of fear and doubt that I couldn’t do it and firmly believe now that “If it is to be, It’s Up to Me”. I have gained knowledge, strategies, teaching skills and confidence that will help me get the job done. I use my learned strategies daily in my classroom. The teacher I work with says there is a noticeable difference this year in the students speed of growth in reading and writing. Some questions and concerns that I have are: Will I be able to practice some of the practices I have learned in this program with our school curriculum? I feel this stands in my way. Will the other teachers in the school embrace my perspectives? One thing for sure, I am honored to have taken this step of achievement with all of you and welcome the opportunity to create a district collaborative for Teacher Writing at our schools.