What is it about writing assignments that causes otherwise verbal students to freeze? As we all know, some of us have strengths in math, some in art, some in technology and some in to be determined.
It’s always my personal challenge to identify those students who are writers. They express joy at the opportunity to articulate feelings and thoughts. They do whatever is necessary to prepare for the adventure.
Others will do everything imaginable to dodge the activity. I don’t have a pencil. I don’t know what to write about. It’s too noisy in here. It’s too cold. And in a few rare cases, I don’t like to write.
My observations suggest that too many would-be writers are halted because of fears of something. It may be fear of misspelling. Or it may be insecurity about a lack of words to communicate a finely developed thought.
Sometimes, the excuses are more sophisticated. In spite of about 200 books in the classroom, one pair of girls couldn’t find anything worth reading and then reviewing. As a result, there was their “legitimate” reason not to write several sentences.
But it’s not always bad news. Occasionally, I’ll have a student ask if he or she can write more sentences than requested. And sometimes, I’ll have a student say that she or he is writing a book, and can I help publish said book.
It becomes clear that our responsibility as leaders is to promote any and all forms of self-expression, no matter what shape, size or color they take. Needless to say, I’m not likely to include proficiency at video games or social media participation.
Spelling doesn’t matter and neither does having five sentences. (I learned from one class that their teacher said that paragraphs need to contain five sentences – I’ve never heard that before.) What matters is recognizing that you have something to say that is unique, important and exclusively yours. With those conditions met, writing can be sufficient in itself or as a starting point for many great accomplishments. Shalom.