Lucy Calkins’ wisdom about teaching the writer (and not the writing) continues to reverberate decades after the publication of her book The Art of Teaching Writing. Yet many of us do not teach in a way that promotes writers. I know because I was one of them.
In the past, I taught writing one composition at a time, units with finite beginnings and endings. Each stack of papers collected was an island…I gave little thought to how one student’s paper fit into the larger scheme of her writing. Students received grades and feedback, and we moved on without much reflection. I taught writing in this way because I didn’t know any better. I had good intentions, but I didn’t know another way.
Until two years ago when a colleague put Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them into my hands, and reintroduced me to Don Graves and writing workshop through Penny’s work.
Writing workshop changed everything. It refocused my teaching and convinced me that teaching writing–even teaching writing well–is not enough. We have to teach writers.