As a future educator of, hopefully, a fourth or fifth grade classroom and an individual who has always been more drawn to the subjects of reading and writing more than anything else in my own education, I feel a little more pressure when it comes to teaching the subject in the classroom because of my desire to get it right. My most challenging but important task in teaching writing is to implement a daily writing workshop in my classroom schedule. I believe one of the most important characteristics of a writer is to get into the habit of writing and that this cannot be done with a writer’s workshop that is only once or twice a week. Conferencing is a must because writer’s workshop must include some type of feedback system that provides specific, celebratory, and constructive feedback. It is an important part of both building confidence and advancing as individual writers. Hopefully as the year goes on, I can entrust the students enough to incorporate peer conferencing.
Another aspect of writer’s workshop that cannot be overlooked is the importance of allowing students choice—choice in what they write, how they write it, and where. Prompts will be suggested to those having a difficult time thinking of a topic of their own, but I want to give the students as many opportunities as possible to feel a sense of ownership and having voice in their writing. When it comes to how I want my students to write, I would like to offer my students the option of either getting their words on paper with a pencil or typing their writing—especially for those who have a particularly difficult time writing with pencil and and paper. I also want to offer my students a variety of different seating options around the classroom during this time as long as they understand the expectation to write. It is similar to what one would see during a reading workshop where, oftentimes, students are allowed to choose any spot in the room where they feel they can focus on their reading best. I believe that this same concept can be translated to apply to writer’s workshops as well.
I certainly do not want writing to be limited to only one part of the day but also a tool for inquiry in all subjects because not only is this an expectation as far as standards go but it also forces each student to reflect and communicate their own understanding. I want my students to write fictional stories based on and opinion pieces about real historical event, current events, and scientific phenomena. I also want students to use writing as an opportunity to reflect on how their own lives connect to various topics being discussed across subject matter. While written artifacts of learning will not be the only acceptable form of assessment in my classroom, it will always be a choice for my students.
Ultimately, I would like to create a positive classroom environment in which students can feel safe in expressing themselves through writing. I want to create not only exceptional writers but also a community of writers in which students learn how to respect each other’s work and opinions. I understand that this will require expectations to be explicitly and repeatedly stated in the beginning, but these expectations will be heavily tied to the overall classroom norms that the students will all have a part in contributing to in a democratic process. It is the responsibility of the teacher to maintain a level of consistency, structure, and organization in the classroom so that the students can sense stability and feel comfortable in roaming more freely within the set boundaries.