Welcome to the Writing Spa.
Please put your things down and help yourself to salt scrub – wash your hands and refresh.
Or have some aromatherapy lotion.
Listen to the soft music, the sound of the ocean with the occasional distant gull.
That fragrance in the air? That’s a pillow mist. It’s called Peaceful.
Yes, it does smell very spa-esque, doesn’t it?
Today we will write. It’s so important that teachers of writing write themselves, with and for students.
Today you write for you.
You have a choice of stations: Refresh, Evoke, Escape. Start wherever you like. If there’s time, we will get to all three; if not, certainly two.
Let me explain.
The Refresh sign bears the Isak Dinesen quote: “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” Which salt water form grabs you first? Close your eyes and envision a scene where this salt water form played a significant role. Where were you? Who was with you? Get back into the moment – show, don’t tell.
Here’s an example, a time when tears played a healing role in my life ….
The sign at the Evoke station reads: “Nature speaks and wafts her perfumes. Capture it.” This is meant to connect us to the natural world with sounds and scents that lift our spirits and make our hearts rise. Write about any sound or any scent that does this for you, and why it has this effect. Who or what is associated with it?
I chose sound. I wrote about cicadas in the summer and what this evokes for me. I will share ….
The last station is Escape. There’s a place you long to return to – why? Who or what is connected to that place? Capture it in detail so the reader goes there with you. Share the reason for its specialness to you.
Here’s one of my special places. I only went there once ….
The teachers write. Some have tears in their eyes; some stop to look into the distance, far beyond the walls of the room, to different places, conjuring different images in each of their minds. The music is soothing. We are breathing in Peaceful. When it’s time to stop, those who wish to share their writing do so with one another; those who’d rather not share are willing listeners, ready to give positive responses on the strength of the writing. There are more tears. There are also smiles, even a small eruption of laughter at the humor in someone’s writing.
We rotate and repeat.
For reflection, they write a takeaway for themselves and one for their classrooms. They write on white paper.
Ball up your white paper. This is the Invigoration piece of the spa – we will now have a snowball fight! Have at it!
Much laughter ensures as teachers throw “snowballs” at one another. We stop; they choose a snowball and open it up to read to a partner. No one knows who wrote what and reflections that strike chords are shared with the group. We go another round.
I hope you enjoyed your Writing Spa, everyone. However you view yourself as a writer, the goal for today is that you found writing a pleasurable experience. Writing must be pleasurable for teachers to be pleasurable for students. We create the atmosphere for writing in our rooms. Think of ways you might adapt what we’ve done here for your kids – pay it forward.
On your way out, by the door, there’s a basket of chocolate – help yourself to Chocolate Therapy.
Go forth in writing wellness.
I did two variations of the Writing Spa, one with teachers at my school last December and one on Monday with teachers attending the North Carolina Reading Association Conference. Improving writing instruction has been a major focus at my school for a couple of years, the most frequently-requested area of support. The spa was born from a synthesis of ideas: Teachers, however they feel about writing, need to have enjoyable experiences with it; professional development needs to lift teachers’ spirits; writing is about going deep, tapping the power that lies within us.
I’m still working on my salt water piece.
(I finished it: Baby’s breath)