Freewrite Take Two
This one is a little harder getting started on. Writing about my career, about what I love about it is so easy to address. It is such a part of me, and a proud part. But this topic, this is hard. This is new. This is unclear. Writing to Heal. It is a therapeutic practice. It is something I know is done, there are studies about how it has helped women of domestic abuse, veterans, cancer patients, and so on. There are support groups and therapists who use it as a best practice. But it only became important to me, when it happened to me. When I allowed myself to create work that mattered and that opened me up to look inside of myself and say, "Hey, it's time...Write..."
The question for me is why were those writing moments safe for me? Why did I feel that I could write about difficulties in my life that I hardly spoke about or shared with anyone at those moments? And not only that, but then after sharing it with these new people in my life, I could have kept the pieces hidden and put them away, but I went on to share them with my therapist. The writing became a catalyst to conversation and propelled my healing forward.
I remember thinking about all the suppressed thoughts I was carrying about my mom and all of these words that I associated with her passing. Knowing that I had this opportunity to put it to paper and then do nothing with it if I chose, felt safe. So I did. It was like a release. I wanted more of that feeling and thought that by taking the next step and sharing my writing I could have more of that freeing feeling. I was right.
Ok, so this is also important and very personal to me. But I'm not a psych major and I don't want to take the approach of one. Just doing a quick peek at what's out there in the world of studies, there are a lot. So, how do I take a fresh approach to this topic through the viewpoint of a writing study? Can I focus on myself? Perhaps continue to write pieces that focus on the topics I work on in therapy and maybe analyze my process of healing as I do so? That could be one way to marry the psych and writing worlds together. Maybe something worth talking about...
Trying to Gain a Focus Freewrite
What makes me happy when I teach writing to my students? This is a loaded question because there are so many answers! I can think of very specific moments with very specific students, but when I think of bigger-over all-hey my kids got it-moments-or I love teaching this to my students moments-there are a lot! Perhaps a list will be best.
I am really happy when:
- powerful, important, and meaningful topics are selected for their writing pieces
- a personal writing goal is mastered by any student
- meaningful revision work takes place and they understand that it is improving their work
- a one on one conference goes well
- I can use my own writing as mentor texts
- they say they loved a unit or a particular writing piece they created
- their writing is transformative in some way on a personal level
- a strategy group succeeds
- an advanced student challenges himself outside of his comfort zone
- I find the perfect mentor texts
- they use their Writer's Notebooks well
- I feel like I taught a lesson well
A few proud moments this year:
- Ian hugged his writing portfolio because he was so proud of the work he had done
- Karina captured the heartbreak of missing her dad a few years after he died through the use of symbolism in her piece
- Realizing that half of my second block didn't know when to indent, and three strategy groups later, most of them were using paragraphs!!!
- Seeing "author's crafts" being used regularly in most of their writing pieces.
- Persuasive topics about gun control, marriage equality, Seaworld's treatment of the orcas, animal abuse, benefits to organic eating, sexism, and so on...
- Jayden, "My revisions have revisions!"
- Shannon, "I am no longer allergic to revising my work."
- Rosemary, "Ms. Martinez, please finish writing your turtle story. It would make the best mentor text."
- Diksha, "Ms. Martinez, you are the best mentor we have."
- Fighting for the author's chair!
- A successful conference with Ryan about authentic dialogue.
I can keep adding to both lists. There have been so many proud moments and so many reasons why I love teaching my kids writing. I don't know if having so many thoughts is a good thing for narrowing down a thesis idea, but it's good that I still love my career choice.