The Sweet Spot

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In transitioning back to the classroom after two years in a different role, the part I have most looked forward to is having my own group of little writers to work with.  Writing is my favorite part of the day, and I have so much looked forward to creating that Writers’ Workshop sanctuary in my classroom!

During these early days, however, it has been easy to get discouraged.  Setting up routines takes so much repetition and patience!  Kids seem more resistant to becoming independent writers than in any other subject during the day.  (It doesn’t help that it is the last period of the afternoon.)  They are like popcorn, jumping out of nowhere and following me through the room with random questions, or imploring me to “look at this”.  They all have to go to the bathroom, even though we’ve just come from our recess break.  Suddenly, shoes need tying, bleeding scabs need band-aids, and lost sweatshirts must be found on the spot.  One kiddo even made a last-ditch effort to avoid writing by offering to plug in all our tablets and check to see that they each worked.  Instead of focusing attention on our work together, it seems like every distraction is magnified to the max.  Even those who try to think about settling in have one eye firmly on the clock, waiting for the dismissal bell to ring.  Writing workshop has been a battlefield, when instead I had pictured a peaceful, happy time together.

But today all the repetition paid off.  We hit the “sweet spot”!  After the minilesson, students grabbed their materials and happily settled in.  I held my breath in disbelief…but it was really happening!  I scanned the room once, twice—and took a happy sigh of relief.   Everyone (for the moment) was on track and focused on their process.  And finally they were relaxing and feeling more confident about what they can do as writers.  It didn’t last a whole long time–but it was a start!  Now we have something to build on as a group, and I’m back to feeling excited about where we will go with writing together this year.  I hope it will soon be their favorite part of the day, too.  I have high hopes for each one of them, but my primary goal is that they will know for themselves the joy of sharing their thoughts through writing.

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3 comments

  1. teachworkoutlove · September 14, 2016

    awesome! i am waiting for this!

    Like

  2. Norah · September 14, 2016

    I’m so pleased you found the sweet spot today. How wonderful. But I couldn’t help thinking as I read through your report, whether some cooling down, or calming time may help focus them back in the classroom, rather than leave their minds still wandering around the playground. A story reading to settle or inspire could be a good way to begin. Or even a story mediation which requires the children to lie on the floor, eyes closed, and breathe deeply in and out, as you tell them an imaginative story in a soothing voice – maybe even a story about writing or a visualisation of the process. It is difficult for children to do anything when they first come in from the playground. I know you want to make the most of your writing time, but settling them down quickly will maximize that. Having a set routine signals that it time to switch off the outside and switch on the inside.
    My other thought was that the incidents you describe would make an hilarious story, which you and the children could write together. I think I’d love to have a go at it myself!
    Enjoy! I’m sure you’ll get there. I wish you many more sweet spots.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elisa Waingort · September 22, 2016

    Anything after a recess is hard! But, yes, at the beginning of the year everything feels like it takes so much longer than it shoud, and it does! But, when you hit that sweet spot, it’s like music to your ears. Enjoy the sweetness of your writing workshop.

    Like

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