There are so many amazing quotes about "failure" and getting back up again, well sometimes it is hard to get back up again when it comes to teaching my students how to write. This past month we have been working on the all important five paragraph essay - an essential skill for young writers. Having taught this now for years you would think I would be an expert, that this would just be another piece of my year. Welp, not so much...all of us teachers know the struggle that how you taught one year might not work the next. I know my students have struggled with this in the past and I have learned from those struggles, but every group of learners is different and needs different things. Can I sit here and say they have made no progress or no growth, no. Can I sit here and say I am still struggling with how best to meet their needs, yes. I tell my students that failure is the path to success everyday in my classroom, so why am I struggling so much to take my own advice?
I am constantly open to trying new things, I incorporate student choice whenever possible, and I take my students' lead whenever I can. You would think these would be the keys to success, but while they are leading me to the door it is not yet open. This month I needed this blog post to be a true reflection with where I am at as a writing teacher. I am using great tools, I am conferring with my writers as much as possible, and I am using mentor texts to support my lessons. I know I have done good work, but as I watch my students struggle with pieces of their essays or the essay as a whole it is hard not to feel deflated and let down. When I watch students with incredible potential hating on the process it is hard not to internalize that.
There is an amazing quote that I was given last year that has guided me every since, "You can open the door for your students, but they have to actually walk through it." I am opening the door, but some of them are not walking through, or stumbling through, or barely tip-toeing through. To me this continuously challenges me to go back to the drawing board, which is the part of teaching that I do love, but sometimes it is hard to walk away feeling like I have a concrete answer. I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, I guess I am just looking to find some new resources to turn to when my other ones run dry. I need to get creative and step out of the box again! I know this month felt a little stale, but I know it can be good again, I still have the opportunity to positively shape my current essay writers. All this shows me is that 'Failure February' has the potential to turn into a more positive March. This doesn't mean that teaching writing won't continue to be hard, we all know that isn't possible, but it does mean that I can continue to challenge myself and my students to be better and want more from their instruction.