Last weekend, I spent my Saturday listening to a number of inspiring speakers during our district's 21st Annual Dublin Literacy Conference. I am always interested in learning everything I possibly can about how to help myself and my students with writing. So, I quickly signed up for a session ( Becoming Writers: Decision and Visions) by author, researcher and consultant, Katie Van Sluys. Katie currently works as a professor at DePaul University in Chicago and has written, What if and why, literacy invitations for Multilingual Classrooms.
Katie's session was focused on the visions and decisions we make guiding writers. She challenged us to consider and reflect on our beliefs about writers, writing and writing instruction. Choice, writer's needs, love of writing, audience, purpose, and routine came to mind as I sat and jotted down my quick write. Katie used our thoughts to guide our discussion. She also used NCTE's vision for writer's and writing to help anchor observations we had after watching teachers and students in the midst of workshop.
Katie's session reminded me of the importance of the messages we as teachers send to our students on a daily basis about writing. The language we use when we confer, the physical features/ set up of the room, the way we use student work or thinking to guide mini lessons, and the presence of choice all are ways we convey messages that let students know that they are valued as writers. I left reminded that decisions and visions really depend on the writer; I am just a guide : listening, building on what they know, steering them and hopefully showing how to love writing.