In every Teaching Writing class that I’ve ever taken, the teacher, professor, or coach has talked about teaching students to notice things as a writer. Instead of just walking down the hall the key is to notice the small details: the sun streaming through the window, the hushed whispers, the smell of cafeteria food mixed with sweaty 5th-grader. For the past 3 years, I have been talking to kids about how they should be working to notice these little things. “You are surrounded by brilliance every day, you just need to notice it and write about it.” I even bought each kid a mini notebook to record their noticings in this year. The funny thing is I’ve never tried to do it for more than a couple of days. Well, taking part in SOL has really changed my perspective. This is not some easy task. Noticing things like a writer is HARD!
It’s one thing to notice the small details for a day or two. However, it’s something totally different to do it every day. Especially, when you are trying to look at the daily ins and outs with a new lens. How can I make my daily schedule (which is hauntingly similar Monday through Friday) something new and exciting? Where can I find some new detail that will inspire my next great post? When do I have time in my day to metaphorically “stop and smell the roses?” As I sit trying to write a post each night, I am mentally kicking myself for not spending more time noticing the things around me.
So, I am officially assigning myself the same homework I gave my students the first week of school. Every day I am going to try and record the inspiring details from my day. This can be my writer’s notebook list of ideas to come back to when I undoubtedly get writer’s block. Again. If nothing else, at least I’ve learned an important lesson about writing expectations for 5th graders.