Writing has changed my life. I'm just going to put it out there and say that these past few months have been difficult for me. I am working on making ME better, and I honestly don't think I could have done it without writing. My writer's notebook has been a source of therapy and stress relief. It's funny how when I am sad I just can't seem to find the verbal words to explain my thoughts and feelings, but my pen is always able to find just the right words to put on paper. Someone, during the past year, told me to, "write like my fingers were on fire". This statement has truly changed me. I'm not sure who originally said that line, but I want to personally thank them someday. Since hearing that, I write in my writer's notebook like my fingers are on finger. I write fast and free, and I write EVERYDAY.
As I am reflecting on my past few months, I can't help but think about my students. How many students are silently struggling? How many students have no positive way to express their feelings? How many students are afraid to write because the mechanics and process will be judged, and not the heartfelt emotion of the piece?
I remember going through school and my goal was to always make my writing technically perfect the first time. I was petrified of teacher corrections. Once (and only once) did I find the courage to pour my heart out into a piece of writing; only to have it passed back with red (actually purple) correction marks about my grammar and mechanics. There were no comments (aside from "very nice") about my emotions, fears, thoughts and feelings that were delicately scattered within the piece. What I learned from this was that I'm a terrible writer, and that's when I stopped writing for ME.
I know my teacher (who is a WONDERFUL person) did not mean to kill my love of writing. I know she meant well, and had the best of intentions in mind at that point and time. I also have a strong suspicion that she wasn't a writer. Since I've started writing, it has changed me as a teacher. I know I still struggle with the mechanics and grammar, but at this point I am more concerned with the art of the writing. How do the words make me feel? As I am working with students, I strive to give purposeful and heartfelt feedback to each and every writer. I want to celebrate what they are doing great as writers, and nudge them gently in areas in which they could continue to expand. I want each and everyone of my students to know that writing can be a safe outlet for those silent struggles.
I can confidently say, since I have started writing for ME, my views on teaching writing have completed changed for the better. My views on myself as a person have also started to change for the better.