Yesterday I took a bit of a risk. I was teaching an after school PD book study on Serravallo’s new Writing Strategies Book and decided to introduce a room full of K-4 teachers to the Slice of Life writing challenge. As I stood in front of the group explaining, I could tell reactions were a bit mixed. Some people listened politely. Some people pretended to pay attention while they discretely checked their email or phone. A few had a spark of intrigue in their eyes when I finished. By the end, I left feeling a bit like I’d just told a group of children to eat broccoli–even though everyone in the room probably knows it’s good for them, for some of us just the thought of taking a bite makes us turn away.
Yet I didn’t let myself walk away feeling discouraged. After all, it was last minute. Many of the teachers work with primary students. Writing isn’t easy. Time is short. The reasons for not participating go on and on. I felt good for sharing the challenge, something that means a lot to me, knowing I had at least opened up the opportunity to others–even if none of them decided to take it. It was one of those things I decided to push out of my mind as the class ended, tucking the idea away in the “keep trying next year” file.
But then this morning, in the middle of giving a building tour to a team from another school, my phone buzzed with a text message from one of our third grade teachers: Hi. This is a lot to ask… BUT do you have a few moments today to come in and explain slice of life to my class? Before I could respond, another message followed: Just to get them excited for it…
Today was insanely busy. A morning of tours followed by an afternoon of observing a student teacher and completing the required paperwork. Probably no time for lunch. But I didn’t hesitate with my reply: Yes.
As I sat down with my friend and her third graders this afternoon, we talked about writing together. Similar to the teachers from yesterday, some looked hesitant, a few looked bored, and a few couldn’t wait to begin. We looked at writing from a group of third graders in Malaysia. I showed them my blog and the comments I received today. I shared my experiences the past two years and my insecurities–and how I overcame them. We discussed commenting politely, the logistics of posting, and why we might want to participate in a challenge like this.
Most importantly, we built a community. We identified ourselves as writers. We thought about writing for an audience and about giving other people respectful feedback. We thought about the world as a place where we share our experiences and our ideas.
And isn’t that the true purpose of this month? It’s not about the labor that goes into writing each post for 31 consecutive days. It’s not about the time or the energy this endeavor requires or even about refining our craft. It’s about connecting with others. It’s about sharing our ideas and our stories. It’s about shifting the way we look at the world. It’s about giving and connecting. It’s about what it really means to write–one post, one writer, one teacher or classroom at a time.
I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday and daily during the month of March in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.