How do I inspire them?


Inspire. chattygdCC BY 

The crowd of educators goes to lunch, posting their “gots” and “wants” on a chart as they exit the morning’s session on growing young writers. My co-facilitators and I look over these sticky notes, preparing to address the “wants” in the afternoon when the participants return.

One note in particular grabs my attention:

I want my students to be excited about writing and to write more. How do I inspire them?

“It’s all yours,” say my colleagues.

I smile.

This is what I love.

Educators talking about inspiration. It’s vital to professional development, to the work that we do

To inspire, one must first be inspired.

Author Avi, in a Skype with students at my elementary school a couple of years ago, defined inspiration as breathing life.

Writers are life-breathers.

So are teachers.

Lucy Calkins, speaking of launching writing workshop, says: “No matter how tentative and insecure you may feel, role-play your way into being confident of yourself and your children because they will hitch a ride on your enthusiasm.”

It’s more than modeling the writing; it’s modeling a passion for writing. It’s digging deep within yourself to find your own stories, your own ideas, your own stances, and giving life to them . . .

The crowd returns. Little knots of teachers, support personnel, and administrators spanning kindergarten through high school, chattering, laughing. They take their seats one by one; an air of expectancy settles over all as my co-facilitators and I respond to their “wants.”

It’s my turn.

I want my students to be excited about writing and to write more. How do I inspire them?

“If we want students to get excited about writing, we must be excited about writing. We must write more ourselves, for ourselves first. Walk the walk; if we’re telling them writing is important, we’d better be writing ourselves. That’s why I started my blog, to keep me writing consistently. Tap into your own memories, the things that matter to you. Write in front of the students; show them every step of the way, how the ideas and images come to you, why you want to say what you’re trying to say, why it’s important.  That’s authentic writing. Tell students writing is the closest thing to magic that there is. Show them the power that’s in it. That what THEY think and feel matters. Good writing is labor-intensive; they have to get a taste of why it’s worth it. Tap into their emotions; there’s always a way . . . help them see that writing isn’t just something to be done for school for a grade, over and done. Writing is about life itself . . . .”

Breathe life. From your writing to theirs, from your soul to theirs.

There’s a whole world within each young writer. There’s a world around them that they’re grappling to understand. A world with a place for each of them. We don’t create these worlds for them. We just open the doors.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

– Arundhati Roy

10 thoughts on “How do I inspire them?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve shared some of my posts with my class. We have conversations about the steps I have gone through to write. For one post they suggested an alternative title. On their recommendation I changed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Inspiration for me! This is what I needed to hear today. I love the push and pull of this post. I can feel the struggle to write and to share the struggle and joy along side our learners.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The teacher is the key to students loving writing. I see too many teachers who simply go through the motions of writing. They are not writers, their kids also go through the motions. They need to tackle the difficulties of writing head on and be a writer. That’s why I write. I need to know where it is hard and share with teachers and kids what I can do when it’s hard. I love “hitch a ride on your enthusiasm.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YES TO ALL OF THIS! I think that’s why I love to teach writing and why my class of 4th graders are becoming more confident in their writing abilities. They’ve watched me sketch out a draft based on my thoughts, I’ve stood before them explaining my peaks and valleys, and today I typed out a snapshot narrative based on one of my peaks. I talked them through my thought process and reasoning of why I was including certain parts and not others. Then I turned them loose on their drafts and they blew me away with their drafts. My hurting heart definitely needed that burst of joy. Thank you so much for inspiring me.

    Liked by 1 person

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