It’s rare to hear, but my first year of teaching was wonderful. It was my second year that was a little more stereotypical, but I had already been provided THE tool my first year: having an amazing MENTOR. The woman deserves a whole blog post series, but today, I want to share how her writing affirmations have changed and shaped my classroom.
I write because I have a VOICE that needs to be HEARD.
In my classroom, I want my students’ voices to be heard. Loud and clear. Mostly, I want to teach them how to ensure their voices are heard in all circumstances of disconnect and injustice – beyond the classroom. When students choose this affirmation as the one they resonate with most, I receive stories of how they’ve been silenced, misunderstood, and misrepresented.
I write because I have FEELNGS that need to be EXPRESSED.
In a pandemic school year especially, my colleague and I have sought to provide writing space to work out thinking and feelings and uncertainties. High schoolers have a lot of feelings. So do I. When students choose this affirmation, they tell me how school has not historically been a safe place to discover, how “school writing” has been formulaic over the years, and how feelings have no place on standardized tests.
I write because I have a POINT OF VIEW that needs to be SHARED.
Teaching persuasive writing lends itself to this, but BOY, do high schoolers have a point of view! In the classroom, with their friends, in their families, so many students are dismissed. When students select this affirmation, stories abound in experiences of being silenced, misunderstood, and misrepresented.
I write because I have a LIFE STORY WORTH TELLING.
And isn’t this why we write? Any and every form of writing is influenced by our life story, by our experiences. I want my students to know their stories matter, their stories have impact, their stories are worth listening to. When students select this affirmation…it is heartbreaking. Sophomores can be incredibly mature and insightful. Their stories range from astonishing to surprising to horrifying to inspiring.
Do you see a pattern in student responses? These writing affirmations help cultivate a writing community based on trust and respect and vulnerability.