A student stopped me in a hallway in a school one day several years ago. Her excited
eyes begged me to listen to her story – something about her weekend, a missing
tooth, and her grandmother. I listened, of course.
You HAVE to write more about this, I said. Put it in your Writer’s Notebook!
I can’t. She said. I have to write what my teacher tells me.
* * *
Interconnected. As we have shared, our belief is that our literate lives don’t end at the front door. We don’t turn them off like a switch and turn them back on when we get home. Nor do students.
What is it that we shut down when students enter our schools, our classrooms? Or, a better question, how can we make sure we keep the door open for them? Said less metaphorically – how can we help students connect their lives both inside and outside of school? Is it even important? We believe it is.
It would be easy to list some ways here. Things like: Give students choice in their reading and writing—every day. Check in with them in the morning. Show interest in their interests. Have Genius Hour once a week. These are all great. They get kids to buy-in, to want to learn. In fact, we think these are non-negotiables. Students should have time to write about small moments, meaningful experiences in their Writer’s Notebook. It goes without saying.
But to truly forge connections between learning inside and outside of school, we need to show — sometimes convince students – that each bit of their life is important. We do that by listening. An amazing kindergarten told us this recently. She’s so right.
It’s not always easy. There’s not always time. Students lose lots of teeth. There are many weekends and soccer games to hear about.
Yet, we are never ceased to be amazed what happens when we give those few extra seconds to listen. And in those moments, there is always an opening for us to help students connect their “inside” and “outside” lives.
How are you helping students connect their lives inside and outside of school? What openings have you had lately?
We’d love to hear.
Head over to Two Writing Teachers for all of the day’s Slice of Life stories.
Darla & Jen