A brand new school year is just around the corner, and I am really excited to get started. At the same time, I really wish my summer were a few weeks longer. Who doesn’t, right?
I’m especially excited this year because I have completely revamped my course – I’ll be teaching my Heritage Spanish 1 class using the reading and writing workshop model. I’ve spent the last 6+ months learning as much as I can about it: poring over blogs, stalking ELA teachers on Twitter, reading some great books on the subject (check out anything by Penny Kittle; you won’t be disappointed), tagging along to English department meetings at my school, and even attending 3 days of PD with the entire English team.
I was able to try out a writing workshop unit in my classes last year, and it was amazing! My students wrote more and better than they ever had before. I realized that if they could improve so much in 5 weeks of workshop, then a whole year would lead to incredible growth.
I’m lucky to work with some wonderful English teachers who are always seeking to improve their practice, and who never hesitate to let me pop in to observe. Learning to teach a language arts class with no formal training in that area is work – but it’s work that I’m excited to do.
So I’ve been working a lot this summer, but when it’s work I want to do, and it’s done on my own time, it doesn’t feel so stressful. I’m still poring over blogs about writing workshop and stalking ELA teachers on Twitter. I’m also adding lots of books to my Amazon wish list (and, of course, buying some with my own money because I just can’t resist), buying a mountain of composition notebooks and colorful pens, and working on planning documents for the year ahead.
One big takeaway from all that I’ve read is that you can’t teach writing if you don’t write. Before the writing workshop unit I did last year, it had been a long time since I did any kind of writing. Writing beside my students, I wrote 6 personal narratives, and carried two of them through the editing process to a finished product. This summer, in preparation for the new year, I wrote a letter to my students, “10 Cosas que quiero que sepas acerca de esta clase.” And now, here I am starting a blog. Even if no one ever reads it, at least I am working on writing. That’s a start.