I know that after last post you are waiting at the edge of your feed-readers to discover how my videotape of kids learning about databases in the library displays the rest of the ten standards related to Entry Two. And believe me, I want to discover this too. However, please allow me a week’s digression to pick the lint out of the bellybutton of my blog, and simultaneously fulfill a request to write a quick piece about it from the editor of the NVWP’s Journal.
The truth about this blog is that it’s a blast to write-- puns, purple, pedanticism... anything goes. Anther truth is that sometimes I write it in a blast, one quick pass at the keyboard like a falcon smashing downward on its prey. Following are a few things I have learned in the process of writing “Certifiable?” over the past ten months.
1. That I can write every week. If nothing else comes of all this, at least I got religion. It’s still not the hallowed 8 to noon that how-to-write-a-novel books assume we mortals can somehow carve out of our schedules. There is, after all, the day job to think about (without which I wouldn’t be writing the blog in the first place).
2. That I can do this National Board thing. It’s true that with every blasted bite of elephant I start to feel more like Forrest Gump, swabbing the deck in his barracks and listing for his pal ad infinitum the ways to prepare shrimp. But what I’m really saying, with each key stroke and each new post, is I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... I am writing toward my goal, figuring something out each week. It’s kept me honest, and been a genuine experience of what writing guru Donald Murray calls Writing to Learn. Or, in my case, Writing to Earn.
3. That voice follows form follows function. When I started this, I looked at every piece as a mini-column. I sweated. I was a little uptight. Eventually I realized what it was for-- to capture a process as it happens. With that I accepted that this is its own form, more forgiving and more plastic. It allows one to imbed fragments of the topic like shards in an ongoing mosaic, without the same obligation as a column to achieve a complete portrait at each sitting. In discovering the freedom this allows, I have also discovered a voice that is, to my ear, more authentic and fluid.
4. That I can connect with my readers. Audience is everything in this game. It’s connected to the context bone, which is connected to the purpose bone, which is connected-- directly-- to my flibbling fingers every time I sit down to write a post. I realized this the very first week, when I received a cascade of genuinely supportive comments from more than a classroom’s worth of teachers sprinkled across the country. Since then, the comments have trickled in at a much slower rate, but are no less meaningful. NBCT’s offer advice, wannabe’s like me offer amens, even old students pop up with unexpected thank yous. Knowing that there are real somebodies at the other end keeps me coming to the keyboard each week when I really ought to be doing Entry Two.
5. That I can be a better teacher of writing when I write. I know how long it takes to write 500 words, and the exact cost in bodily fluids. When assigning writing now, I can be the poor shmuck standing next to them in the soup line instead of the imperious do-gooder ladling it out. Not only do I think twice when asking them to write, I read more honestly, too. I tell them what I want as a reader, red pen be damned.
The opinions expressed in Certifiable? are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.