I have been preparing for a conference presentation which I called ‘A different Look at Writing’.
The session description says: Do you like writing? Do your students like writing? We will experience several writing activities and discuss how to get excited about the writing process. We will see if we can teach writing in a different way, and how this skill can be used in other aspects of teachers’ lives.
First, let me share a couple of assumptions I am making about the attitude to writing (or its image) teachers may hold. [Note: I have talked to my colleagues in Ukraine about this, and I have run this session at our EduHub event in Dnipro earlier this year, so they seem to be true at least for my colleagues here]
- Teachers like speaking more than writing (in L1, in L2)
- Teachers don’t (often/always) write much in their everyday life outside teaching.
- Teachers (may) project their attitude to writing to students
- Writing is harder than (the least comfortable among) the other language skills (both for teachers and students), and both in L1 and L2.
- Students (may) need the skill of writing in English to reach the life goals they are setting
The session idea: if you [the teacher] write (in English) in the real life outside teaching (for business, for pleasure, etc.) you (may) see this skill/process differently in the classroom, and this may change your attitude to teaching writing, choosing methods and activities, etc.
Now, the last sentence of the description suggests that there are different ways in which the skill of writing can be used in our lives, and I decided to make a list of how it helps me personally. So yes…
… writing plays an important part in my life
- as a professional development tool (well, you are reading this post on my blog…)
- as an ‘idea catcher’ (I always have a note book with me when I travel, and when there is not paper around you can see me texting notes on my phone)
- as a ‘creative warmer’ for a new project (with a timer on, I like to brainstorm possible options or alternatives for tasks, and having 3-5 of them is often enough to start working out the details)
- problem-solving tool (can be also seen as a decision-making tool) for weighing pros and cons of something, or analyzing options and alternatives, or offering them to my project partner, etc.
- reflective practice tool (almost the same as professional development but in this can more systematic/structured)
- ‘calming down’ tool or a kind of meditation (for example, the Morning Pages idea from Julia Cameron, which I have never managed to work on systematically or at length)
- thinking tool (the difference between this one and all the mentioned above is that the ideas come from the process of writing, and my mind gets clear, and new connections are visible, and… lots of other magic things may occur)
- planning, or capturing tool: as David Allen puts it, ‘your mind is for generating ideas but not for holding them’
- something that brings me to the state of flow
What about you? What is your relationship with writing? What role does writing play in your (ELT) life? In what way your writing experience outside the classroom impact the way(s) you are teaching this skill?
Thank you for reading!