I don’t teach writing because I have to, I teach writing because it is a passion. It is a passion that was reignited in me after attending the Chippewa River Writing Project’s summer institute in 2010. Now, I can’t stop writing or talking about writing. To a language arts teacher and someone who has that passion for writing, the Common Core Standards are great! Okay, so that is my opinion. I know others don’t share the same feeling. To be honest, the few that do like it, are on an island. Nevertheless, the CCSS calls for there to be more writing across the curriculum. In all reality, this idea should not come as any sort of surprise, but it in some arenas it is a game changer. Our principal made sure writing was occurring across the spectrum this year. Some teachers were already doing this, others had to be nudged on board. With those that had to be nudged, I now have a clearer picture as to why they were essentially against this idea. Two factors are evident.
First, the teachers who are against having their students write in their class are not quality writers. I say this with all the respect in the world, but it is true. For instance, you can not have confidence implementing more writing into your Science curriculum if you yourself are not comfortable writing or confident in showing students how a piece of writing should be set-up or written. I can comprehend this and it makes sense to me. If I don’t know how to play golf correctly, I am not going to be comfortable or confident teaching someone how to do it. As language arts teachers, perhaps it is our responsibility to mentor our colleagues instead of getting frustrated with them. Just a thought.
Although I take confidence into consideration, the second factor I have seen constantly and consistently is poor attitude. In other words, poor attitudes by teachers. Teachers who feel that writing belongs in the English classroom. An individual I once came into contact with every day, who was a teacher, told me writing was not their responsibility. They didn’t take college courses to teach writing. At the moment, when this conversation took place, I wanted to scream. I’ll admit, at the time, I was sulking about the paper load I had and with good reason, but I probably shouldn’t have complained about it. However, one educator telling another educator it’s not their fault I chose to become a language arts teacher is rather unprofessional. This type of attitude is only going to hurt our students when it comes to increasing rigor in their daily school lives, especially when the Common Core Standards call for this type of rigor as I mentioned in my last blog post.
As I head into the month of May I am having more conversations about making connections across the curriculum. As a matter of fact, the math teacher and myself had a great conversation about the students writing a research report connected to the statistics unit that she will doing in class. It won’t happen this year, but we will try to continue the conversation and definitely put something in place for next year. In addition, the language arts standards can easily work with the social studies state standards that we have. The social studies teacher and I are going to be creating some cross curricular units where the students can write about a social studies topic and also read more authentic texts, such as the primary documents.
Those teacher who do not teach language arts are no longer going to be able to hide in the corner and forget about implementing writing. They will need to change their attitude, and be willing to accept the idea of writing in their classroom.