One thing I know for sure: Writing is hard. Lately, I’ve been reminded how hard as I’ve tried to keep up with Sarah Donovan’s challenge #verselove2019 to write a poem a day during the month of April.
It’s only day 9, and Oh, my!
It’s not even the poetry part I’m finding difficult, which is surprising. Deciding on an idea and then sticking to it has wrecked me for eight straight days. And now I’m wondering:
How often do I expect students to dive into drafting without giving them time to talk and question and change their minds about their ideas? Do they have enough time to play and mull and sit with their thoughts before they make a commitment–or before a draft is due?
I know what so many great writers say: Just start writing; you’ll discover what you want to say. But what if that doesn’t work for everyone? Lately, it hasn’t worked for me.
So now I’m wondering: How can I plan for enough time to give everyone the time they need to settle in to their ideas before I plan enough time for them to write?
Now, I’m not talking about timed writing — or state-mandated test writing. Those are different (and in my humble opinion) horrible inauthentic beasts. I’m talking about the process of thought. The thinking it takes to draft with intention.
I’m pretty sure I’ve rushed it.
And I want to slow it down.
Amy Rasmussen lives and writes from her home in North Texas where the bluebonnets are blooming beautifully. She thinks about writing all the time and needs to get better at getting her thoughts on the page. Writing poetry, which is far out of her comfort zone, may help. You can follow her on Twitter @amyrass
I spent six hours at an AP English conference last Friday. Six long hours. We scored essays: rhetorical analysis. For six hours. It’s not that I don’t like scoring essays. I do. I love it (well, kind of), especially when the essays belong to my own students, and especially when my students show me evidence of some skill we’ve focused on in class. These essays did neither. They were random essays pulled by the College Board to serve as the sample anchor essays. I get that AP English teachers need to learn how to score essays. I get that the anchors are a good starting place. I didn’t get why the conference sponsors didn’t gauge the room: First time AP teachers here? What about experienced over here?
I fear I rant. But here’s the thing: so much time is wasted when those in charge don’t consider their audience.
Like at the beginning of last week for campus PD. We learned about Accountable Talk–something the campus has focused on explicitly for the past three years. Admin might have polled the room, asking questions about our levels of comfort with the talk moves, instead of continuing with a presentation that only a few new teachers in the room had never heard. No wonder there is grumbling.
I keep hearing about valuing teachers. But I rarely hear about valuing teachers’ time.
I was out of my classroom three days last week. Fortunately, I have a competent sub who will deliver the lessons and hold my students accountable. But still, I haven’t been there. I’ve given an AP mock exam; I’ve scored 120 essays; I’ve attended a conference where I grabbed and clung to just one good idea. i have 40 AP English students who will benefit from my last three days. I have 105 other students, freshmen and sophomores, who will not. So, I wonder has my time been well spent?
And I’ll think about this when I present to teachers. I’ll think about this when I commit to attend trainings.
I know the best use of my time is in my classroom with my students.