The Potential Summer Holds For Teachers of Writing

It’s almost the end of another Australian school year, so I am aware of the level of exhaustion that exists in schools, and the need to tie up a multitude of loose ends prior to school closing for the summer holidays. Teaching becomes a race to the finish line. The last week of school seems to take the longest time of all the many school weeks. It is the epicenter for fatigue.

 I am also aware that on summer’s horizon teachers will have free time to relax and regenerate their energy reserves.  A time for relaxation, holidays, family and recreation. For those of you who have committed to a new approach to aspects of your teaching in 2016, may I suggest that the holidays might present a great opportunity to embrace the inner writer and commence your very own writer’s notebook. I know many of you read extensively when you are on vacation. Free of the pressure of the classroom, it is possible to indulge in more personal reading; becoming re-acquainted with favourite authors, or to read that book you received as a gift. It is a logical extension to add a little writing to your extra time. If you do this, it will mean that when the new school year begins you will have compiled a sampling of text that will assist you to model aspects of writing to a fresh group of students. It will afford you immediate writing credibility with your new class of curious learners. Hopefully, you will have captured summer memories, made lists, gathered artifacts, made drawings, gathered photos and the like to assist you to connect more easily to the writing lives of your students. You will be able to say, ‘Like you, I am a writer! Like you I make time for things I consider to be important.’ What a positive start to a new school year.

I urge you to get started over the break. Don’t put it off until the school year begins. It will be too late then -overwhelmed by a myriad of demands and organizational matters –you get the picture, I’m sure.  The world is full of people who espouse good intentions. The challenge is to turn one’s self into a real life action figure.

Some Things To Consider:
Feelings, dreams, family history, daily activities, ideas, sketches or poetry. Information and insights for yourself or have others share. Record the life of others - holidays, visits to and from families, cultural and special events, holiday observances, New Year, rituals, coming of age, weddings, christenings, school days, leaving school, entering work, going to tertiary education, trips overseas, birthdays, funerals, parties, photographs, clippings, articles, references, certificates, drawings, keep-sakes, ephemera, artefacts and other original material.

Just as you want your students to make a good start to the school year, you should expect the same for yourself.  I’m not suggesting you to write to a rigid schedule, just quarantine a little time to document some of the rich pickings of your summer life. It will be a great investment in designing curriculum – and it’s painless! The more you write, the more you begin to see possibilities. I am not suggesting that you dedicate yourself to just writing about summer exclusively. As always, you are best to focus on matters that are important to you- close to your heart. Choice leads to voice. Maybe your reading might spark your writing. Be open to possibilities.
I’m sorry, but there is no better time to send this message. I need to reach you now while you still have your educators cap on. Hopefully, it isn’t pulled down over your eyes and your hands aren’t over your ears.
My wife, Vicki writing in her writer's notebook while visiting Trani, Italy.

This summer, don’t just dive into the surf. Set aside a little time to dive into some writing. Try to approach writing, in the same manner that many so often approach summer reading. The writes of summer could be the stimulus to launch a great new school year in 2016! Strengthen your very own reading- writing connection.

 I can’t offer a free set of steak of knives with that, but I know writing comes with certain intrinsic rewards.

Off to the beach with a book to read and my writer's notebook at the ready.

To my fellow educators and writers- happy times reading, writing and relaxing.

I wish to end with some great advice from author John Updike.
'You are full of your material—your family, your friends, your region of the country, your generation—when it is fresh and seems urgently worth communicating to readers. No amount of learned skills can substitute for the feeling of having a lot to say, of bringing news. Memories, impressions, and emotions from your first 20 years on earth are most writers’ main material; little that comes afterward is quite so rich and resonant. By the age of 40, you have probably mined the purest veins of this precious lode; after that, continued creativity is a matter of sifting the leavings.'


Popular With Other Visitors

The Wonder of Wordplay

Launching Your Writing Program With Bold Intent in 2018

Learning How to 'Zoom In' When Writing

Helping Student Writers Find That Vital Spark of Inspiration

The Quest For Independence Among Student Writers