Kids,Teachers -Take Your Writer's Notebook With You!
'Writing needs to be seen as a reward, not a duty. I look forward to creating words on the page. This desire to write creates the discipline.'
Igniting Writing- When A Teacher Writes,’ Alan j Wright
When recalling these words, I find myself considering them in the context of the winter term break for Australian schools. It presents as a chance for students and teachers alike to step away from the learning that characterizes classroom time and restore themselves a little. It is time to focus on things that may have been on hold, to take a break, to visit a place or catch up with a friend. It may represent a chance to resume an on-hold project, or you may be planning to relax and indulge in some activity that feels just right. Something that literally slow the pace of your life down for a short period of time. You may go exploring or have an adventure or special trip planned to fit neatly into the break. It also represents a chance to do some reading and writing.
It present a chance to do some reading of books that have already waited too long to be read. For the vast majority there will be cold days, rainy days and days where it is quiet and decidedly slow. For kids there will be times when they are waiting for parents to conclude business, shopping and many other everyday tasks. They have told me many times how boring it is doing all that waiting around. I always encourage them to do what I do. Don’t leave home without a book to read or your writer’s notebook. They need a plan to rescue themselves from boredom that doesn’t involve putting a screen to their face.
While physical activity is to be encouraged, it is not possible to be active the entire holiday period. The quieter times are perfect for diving into a book, or spending a little time capturing thoughts and ideas in your writer’s notebook. We must encourage children to value the lives they are living as worthy of detailed attention. Encourage them to capture those moments, thoughts and ideas they never want to forget.
Children want to write, to express themselves. They want others to know what they hold to be important. When we as educators read and write beyond the classroom and encourage young writers to do the same, we elevate these life skills to a more exulted level. Not every child will make time to do these important things. However, some will and that’s a long way better than none at all.
So, before they scuttle out the classroom door on the last day of term, let them know you will be doing some reading and writing during the break. Let them know there will be fresh new jottings in your notebook when you return and your reading life will be further enriched. And by all means encourage them to follow your lead. Challenge them to capture moments and deeds while away. Encourage them to bring back treasure in their notebooks. Encourage them to be curious while out in the world. A little treasure is far better to hold in your hands than empty handed good intentions.
Me, I’m off travelling to Vietnam for a while in the company of my wife Vicki. I have books to read. They will bridge the lengthy travel times between destinations. They will broaden my appreciation of the host nation. I have a brand new writer’s notebook (that I purchased on my last visit to Vietnam) ready to capture my observations while travelling within this intriguing country. I have a plethora of pens as insurance. I have my camera and I have plans for new adventures and exciting discoveries. I remain a curious learner. I continue to be a reader and a writer wherever I am in the world.