Good, effective, articulate writing matters. In elementary school.
I have always known this to be a fact. And I spent most of my career as an educator doing the work of convincing teachers, administrators, central office decision-makers, parents, and students that this is a fact. Writing well in elementary school matters.
I wrote and shared curricula. I held workshops. I supported teachers in classrooms. I led professional development sessions. I taught, co-taught, modeled, scored, graded, mentored, and conferenced.
But by the time I left the division for which I had worked for 20 years, I did not feel like the change-maker our students and teachers needed and deserved. It wasn't for lack of trying.
Our leadership noted the sinking writing grades of our eighth grade writers...but couldn't see the value in truly investing in and committing to the breadth and width of training and instruction it would take to substantively move the needle on student writing in elementary school.
I struggled to understand how I could have tried so hard and made so little difference.
Here's what I also know to be a fact. Without exception, as soon as I (or another teacher) helped a student get excited about his/her writing, the hook was in and the art happened. Even if the decision-makers outside of my K-5 classroom couldn't or wouldn't understand the value of the elementary writing instruction, my students, their parents, and I certainly did. And so did a fair number of building administrators! We all got it. It was art. It was expression. It was hard work, commitment, thinking, re-thinking. It was mindful, purposeful, and impactful. And it really, really mattered.
Fortunately, I am now the maker of my own decisions and approaches to K-5 writing instruction. And I have something new to share with you all! It's a reframing of why writing matters.
Come back next time and we'll dive in. Remember, #allkidscanwrite!
Christy Weisiger, M.Ed., NBCT