Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Amazing Writers

My inquiry this year has morphed since the last time that I wrote about it.  I was first looking at the connection between both engagement and achievement in writing with the use of non-cognitive skills, last term as I was analysing the data that came from my sample, it was clear that I needed to examine how students were interpreting the role of these skills within the context of their writing.

This realisation brought both joy as non-cognitive skills have become somewhat of a passion of mine to explore within my practice, but also fear as this meant that I would have to rewrite a large portion of my dissertation.  This fear also showed me that I had forgotten about myself as a learner of writing.  This year the academic writing has not come easy to me and it is something that I have had to persevere at and build my confidence in.  I have drawn on the elements of writing that I have been teaching this year - using the conferencing time with my supervisor to discuss openly how I am feeling about my writing, reflecting on feedback and seeing it as a prompt to practice more but most importantly continue to believe in my skills as a writer.

Looking back at where this low opinion of myself of a writer comes from, I can only pinpoint some report comments that stuck with me from when I was a similar age as the kids I now teach.  This is where the passion for developing non-cognitive skills in my students comes from, I do not want to have kids say that they aren't 'good' at something.  I would rather have them reflect on how we can work together to overcome learning that they are finding challenging in the moment and equip them with strategies to help look at problems from different perspectives.

So yesterday I decided to be open with the kids and tell them about an upcoming piece of assessment that was happening this week.  We spoke about who our audience would be for this writing to give them a chance to think about the reason behind this assessment.  Responses I got (unprompted) were like the following:

"So you can see how I am going with my writing."

"So you can talk with me about how I am making progress in my writing."

"So I can see my progress in my writing."

This was a pretty awesome moment to have in Day One, Term Four.  I decided to ask the following question to the group: "How do I show that I am an amazing writer?"  The amazing writer is an in joke with me and the kids as earlier this year, I had over-indexed in using the word amazing to describe progress and the kids picked up on it.  So now it has become the norm to describe ourselves as amazing writers.  The kids rushed to write on these pages and again the responses were amazing for kids who did not enjoy writing in Term One.

All the responses resonated that these kids have become more self aware of their writing abilities and are determined to give any writing challenge a go.  So I am looking forward to reading through their samples this week as they have inspired me to continue developing my craft as a writer to help become a stronger teacher of writing.

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