In a few weeks, our classrooms will be filled with nervous smiles and worried parents, all wondering what the new school year will bring. Some excited for their children to get started on a continued path of learning and growth, others a bit more worried. Sometimes we feel like it is our job to save each student, and the thought of maybe not reaching every single student affects us in more ways than one. The reality is that we can’t save every student in our classrooms in one single school year, but we can have great impact. Teachers are not superheroes, we are human.
Last week I fell in love with writing again. I didn’t think it was possible. It had only been a couple of weeks since my return form UT Austin’s Heart of Texas Writing Project, and in my mind, nothing more could add to that experience. I was wrong.
The impact of the CSISD Writing Project was more than I expected. Coming home from Austin, and becoming a part of a team that has worked hard for years to bring writer’s workshop into the lives of the students in our district was… well, it was an honor.
It was my first time helping to present. I’d never presented to teachers before, and it was quite nerve wrecking, but I chose to do what I’ve been doing a lot lately, putting my fears away and taking on the challenge. I am determined to continue on this journey of growth of mine, purposely keeping an open mind and an open heart to push forward.
Visit http://afhogan.com/10-tips-student-blogging/ for this blog post.
“A writer’s work is made to be published.” -Deb Kelt
Our time here is over. We ended our experience together with a gallery walk. Each of us publishers of works that took us all a process of 3-4 weeks to accomplish. It was a unique experience. There were tears. It was impactful. My wish is to remember it all, but it feels like only bits and pieces of it remain in my mind. So, I blog. It helps me to remember. And I share because it is what Aaron said I should do, and even though he may not know it… he is one of my mentors. One of many now… now that I know what they look like, my list continues to grow.
So… this is hard work… but anything worth doing, is worth working hard for. I know that for sure. I am here, working harder than I have ever worked in the past 10 years as a teacher, and I don’t get paid for it… not in cash at least. What I get is much, much more.
“If you’re going to teach him how to write, first you have to love him. If you can convince him of that, there’s nothing you can’t teach him.” -AVI
Where do I begin… The first thing that comes to mind is how much. How could so much growth happen in just one week and a couple of Saturdays. Then I realized, oh… yea, they’re using the “workshop” model on us. This experience has moved me to my core. Inspiration would do little to describe what has begun to occur… it’s life changing.
This past week, I’ve had the opportunity to think back and acknowledge every moment of literacy in my life, as far back as my memory would allow. I remembered my sister reading to me those Disney books, especially her favorite... Cinderella; I remembered my brother John creating bedtime stories for me, impromptu, off the top of his head, with that same sweet character, Freddy. I wonder if he remembers. My memories scanned across my old house to the four shelves full of encyclopedias that came with the house we moved into when I was five… and my exploration of them as a child. Mozart, I remember Mozart and his genius in one of those books. His story fascinated me, even before I could read those enormous words. All of it came in and out of my memory like gushing, powerful tornadoes, moving in all directions. It was like I’d been given the chance to relive my life, my beginning, my middle, and now. There’s so much to reflect on… only now, after some sleep, can I focus on what jumps out of my memory.
Back in January of 2017, a small group of 9 of my 4th grade students and I met to talk about maybe starting a newspaper club or something that would impact our school in a positive way. After some discussion about going paperless to save the environment, I proposed blogging.
I’d never done it before, and I really wasn’t completely sure what it was, but I thought it would be a good learning opportunity to experiment with, to discover something new with my students. And I knew that at the very least, we would have fun learning together. I heard of this website for kids called Kidblog off of a post on Twitter, and after some research, I knew at least that it was safe for kids. It is a blogging website, specifically designed and created for students.
I decided to let my small group of students lead this adventure. We met during lunch in our classroom, and my only requirements were that everyone in the group participates and everyone is respectful to each other. That was it. They were going to be the leaders of this experiment, and they were more than excited about it. They worked through all of the brainstorming, planning, goal setting, problem solving, and experimenting. I was simply there to help them along the way. If it worked out okay, we would then introduce it to the rest of the class. Once we got started, it caught on like wildfire.
Author: Marina Rodriguez
Photo by Marina Rodriguez
You can't fail at what you don't try... you can't succeed either.
I've come to the realization that teaching today, may not really be teaching at all. Having the abilities and skills necessary to be good “teachers” for students in our modern world, may simply call on us to be guides instead.
Marina Rodriguez is a California native, living and teaching in Texas, and a National Writing Project, Heart of Texas Writing Project, Teacher Consultant.