For the past three days, I have been part of a team of teachers visiting a neighboring district to learn more about this district’s English/Language Arts curriculum and its implementation. This was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I will be thinking about everything I learned there for days and weeks to come.
One of the questions we asked the teachers we visited was “What is the writing life of a student here?” I’ve been thinking about how I would answer this question for students in my district, as well as how I would answer it for myself. This seemed like a good place to begin the 12th annual Slice of Life Challenge.
I can honestly say that I owe my current writing life to the Slice of Life challenge. Late one Friday night seven years ago, I wrote my first slice more on a whim than anything else. That post led to more posts, and eventually I began attending conferences, meeting authors, and ultimately, publishing poems of my own and of my students.
So what is it about Slice of Life that enabled me to build a rich, rewarding writing life? Being part of a community of supportive writers is perhaps the most important thing slicing has given me. From the beginning, the encouraging comments and feedback have nurtured me as a writer and given me the confidence to continue writing. I think about this every day when I confer with my students about their writing.
Another critical quality of slicing is that, in terms of what to write about, the sky is the limit. Writers are free to write about whatever they want, using whatever genre or format that suits their topic. Just as I appreciate being able to make my own choices, I know students want this freedom also. That being said, I also appreciate the suggestions the Two Writing Teacher team members provide throughout the month. Sometimes it’s just hard to face a blank page without any guidelines. This is true for our students as well.
I also appreciate the many mentor texts shared by all slicers. Whether its a line of text that launches a dive into childhood memories, or a poem that provides a structure for a poem of my own, mentor texts are an essential component of any writing life.
These are just my initial thoughts about this question, but I’ll be returning to it over the course of the month. As John Ciardi said, “a good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of ideas.” I look forward to watching the “greening of the landscape” with you.
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Kelsey, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.