Picture it. You walk into the classroom and immediately the students start brainstorming. They want to know what you’re going to teach them, how you’re going to teach them, and more importantly, they want to know if they can do it. That’s how eager they are to learn.
You walk up to the whiteboard and notice it’s covered in notes, doodles, and pictures. That’s because they’re already half way through their creative writing unit and they’re excited about what they’ve learned so far.
They’ve covered all the the basics; plot, structure, and dialogue. Now it’s time for them to take a leap of faith and try something new. You walk up to the board and pick up the whiteboard marker.
“Alright, who wants to be the first to write a metaphor or simile?” you ask.
The hands shoot up in the air. You’d think that at this point in their learning they’d be a little calmer, but no. They’re grasping at straws.
You smile and nod and begin drawing a picture on the board of a lion and a mouse. Then you ask, “Who wants to be the next?”
More hands shoot up in the air. A young boy raises his hand and you smile and nod. You like his confidence. You want him to feel like you do when you first tried writing. This is your cue to walk over and give him a hand up.
He looks up at you with puppy dog eyes and says, “Thank you.” Then he takes his seat next to the whiteboard, pencil in hand.
The next few minutes are magical. You watch in amazement as he silently draws a picture of a lion and a mouse. He wants to put the words “war” and “peace” on the board, but he’s not sure how. You step in and help. You tell him about the power of metaphors and how they can make your writing stand out. Then you give him some tips on how to use them correctly. You show him how a simile can be a more specific version of a metaphor. Finally, you walk around the room and check on the rest of the kids. They’re all still quietly writing away. Some are even a bit distracted by what they’re writing, but it’s a good distraction. You know what?
You’re a teacher and you’ve finally found a way to engage your students. Not only are they learning something, but they’re also having fun while doing it. In a sea of busy schedules and over-scheduled lives, what could be more important than that?
Writing is difficult. It takes practice and a lot of patience, but most importantly, it takes confidence. When you start out, it’s easy to doubt yourself. One bad grade can knock your confidence. One bad grade and your writing won’t seem as good to you as it does to everyone else. So, you keep taking on more and more, trying to prove to yourself that you can do it. With each new piece, you feel a little bit more confident. A little bit more sure of yourself. Even when you fail, you fail big. There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of writing. There’s only drafts and edits and learning how to be more concise and how to find the good in each piece. But, you continue to write, and eventually, you succeed.
For some students, this journey can feel endless. They spend years beating themselves up, never feeling good enough, and never knowing when the next rejection will come. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please don’t be discouraged. This is a common problem, especially with teenagers. But, it’s also a problem that can be solved. Once you find a way to encourage your students to keep trying, you know that he or she will eventually find their way. And when they do, it’ll be because of you. Because you showed them that it’s possible to find success in writing and encouraged them to keep trying. You helped them see the good in themselves, even when they couldn’t see it in themselves.
Writing is an incredible tool for learning. It not only allows you to express your thoughts, but it also gives you the opportunity to develop critical thinking and reading skills. While it can be challenging, it’s so worth it. You’ll see that in the end, the journey is all the more rewarding because of how difficult it can be. The more you put in, the more you get back. And that’s something to be proud of.