Last week, on the twenty-fifth day of school, we began our Writing Workshop. In past years, I’ve started earlier, but this year, with my class rolling along and doing so well, I purposely waited. While I always preach the importance of The First Six Weeks of School and do my best to reread it each summer before beginning my new journey, as the first two or three weeks scamper by, we almost always get started, too soon, in the work of school.
When I posted this fact on the Facebook page for the blog last week, there were many surprised replies. How could I wait so long to begin Writing Workshop? What about the Common Core? Was I crazy?
Well, I might be crazy, but waiting to begin our Writing Workshop has nothing to do with it. As I replied to some readers, kindergarten is about so much more than academics and I truly believe if I rushed, I’d be doing a disservice to my stuents.
We are new to school.
We are four and five-years-old.
We are learning to hold a pencil.
We are learning to sit and work for just a few minutes.
We are dabbling with taking risks.
We are becoming a community.
Anyone who knows me knows I love to write. Teaching writing is probably one of my favorite parts of the job, but I also know writing is hard. More goes into writing than just about anything we do in school and my young sprouts aren’t ready to begin for awhile. We were busy with the business of becoming a family. Now that we’re starting to settle in, we’re ready to become authors.
The fact is, by waiting until October, the results were staggering. The first time I sent my friends off to put pencil to paper as authors, they did something miraculous. They did it. Nobody got up. Nobody shouted out for help. Nobody alerted the room they were ‘DONE!’ after two seconds. Nobody spoke above a whisper.
How did this happen? We waited. By the time I sent them off to write for the first time, each child knew my expectations and the way it was going to work. I let a few children I knew would be successful start first and the rest of us watched. Slowly I released them to work. I wandered around praising behaviors and after about six minutes, we stopped. Six minutes was enough and I wanted to stop before anyone was done. We gathered on the carpet and I told them the amazing news – we are authors! We are going to write stories! We are going to write and illustrate books! We are kindergartners and if we wait until we (most of us) are ready, we are amazing!