Monday, August 25, 2014

The Energy to Teach

Don Graves wrote quite a bit about teachers drawing their energy from students. I would like to add that the more we get to know our students, the greater the exchange of energy. 

We can energize our students just by our own attitudes and dispositions. 

We can energize our students when and if they see our passion for our subjects.

I asked my 8th grade students to complete an online questionnaire about their reading and writing life. I tried to ask questions that will help me learn more about them individually as well as a group. As the results accumulate, I feel energized.

For example, the last question reads, "I created a theme for the year for this class: 'Writing is a craft. Our classroom, a studio.' React to that in anyway you want. Tell me what strikes you about it, or what you may connect with, or even what questions come up for you about that statement."

Below are some of the student responses to my self-created theme for the year, Writing is a Craft. Our classroom, a studio:

This theme makes me feel confident in my writing because if the classroom is like a studio then no one is judging your writing. JF
It kind of reminds me of an art class. Like writing is the art we are working on and the art studio is our classroom. It makes me wonder what this year truly holds in creative writing for me. What art project will I create in the studio of writing. SL
I think you are saying that writing is something you have to do and work on and that your classroom is a place to build and perfect it. DB
Writing is counted as art, even though all what forms it is black lines stroked across a paper in certain patterns forming thoughts or ideas. I find that amazing because it basically means everything is an art since we express ourselves daily, even if not in writing. If so, wouldn't our classroom be only one part of the studio that makes up our lives? Or is writing only an art because it is made up of drawings / typing's? Or is it because we can strategically express ourselves through the words we place on the paper like the way a painter chooses the colors on her canvas? ST 
What strikes me mainly would be the idea that writing isn't just something people do for school. It's also a talent and a skill. It's a craft, as said in the theme. It is not just any skill either, it's a very important one that you use through your entire life. Saying that our classroom is a studio is, to me, a way of saying that the point of it is not to feel like you're writing for school, but that you have a studio where you can feel comfortable writing and sharing your writings with other people in the "studio". ET
 A simple exchange--a heartfelt and honest exchange--can be a great energizer for the start of the year. I am grateful that my students are taking the time respond to my theme for the year so thoughtfully.

And I am already looking forward to tomorrow to hear their thoughts about the rest of the results from the questionnaire.

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