Before teaching a writing lesson, I introduce myself to students as a writer. I tell students that I like to write. I tell them I write outside of school just because I want to. (Insert audible gasps here).
Since I have a sense of myself as a writer in the “real world” it bothers me that the way we teach writing is often artificial and bares little resemblance to real writing. Here are my problems with writing instruction, spelled out with ten myths. This is a three part series.
Myth #1: Students can write without modeling.
Without showing students how you write, they have no guidance as to how it can be done. In order to do this, teachers must be writers themselves. You don’t have to be Shakespeare but you do have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and actually participate in the writing process in front of or along with your students. If students don’t see you writing, it’s hard to believe that real people write.
Myth #2: Writers write at the same pace.
Instead of everyone revising on the same day, my students and I set deadlines for pieces to be published. Within XX amount of weeks, students may spend multiple days on the same stage of the writing process as long as everyone meets a deadline set by the class. In other words, a student might spend three days on drafting and half a day on revising but not everyone has to be working on the same stage at the same time. As we get closer to the publishing deadline, students need to commit to one of their drafts and publish.
Myth #3: Students can’t come up with their own writing ideas. They need prompts.
I used to be afraid that my students couldn’t come up with their own ideas. They can. And they do. It’s teachers who often can’t come up with their own ideas. If you model how to come up with ideas, students can do the same. A lot of times their ideas are more interesting than what they did last summer. Give them a chance.