Measured in Miles . . .

Living in Colorado, we love spending time outdoors.  Ever since our children were young, we have spent time each summer camping with friends.  My husband recently received this card – what a perfect sentiment to celebrate his birthday. The caption -  A journey should not be measured in miles, but in adventures shared and friends gained -   summed up years of traveling and camping experiences.

This card also serves as a metaphor for our experience as teachers today.  As state tests continue to grow in importance, our effectiveness as teachers and our students’ learning journey is measured by standardized test scores.  While this is the reality of our profession and we all sincerely desire for our students to be successful, learning can be oh so much more.

The writing classroom should be one where sharing ideas is seen as an adventure!  Talking and sharing is an essential part of the writing process.  Students learn best from each other, from listening to one another’s ideas and from purposefully listening to feedback on their own writing.  It is so exciting to see students celebrate when someone is able to find just the right word to express their thought, or to hear the collective “ooh” when a student uses a particularly effective phrase.

As educators, we must honor the writing process as a whole.  The writing journey consists of many small steps, from brainstorming initial ideas to selecting the best font when publishing a writing piece.  We must honor each stop in this journey.  Provide students feedback on thoughtfully collected ideas or a well-developed plan!  Be sure to highlight an exceptional choice of words or well-placed figurative language in a paragraph. Celebrate the student who completes his first paragraph in which every capital letter and punctuation mark is included.  Continue to encourage students to share each other’s writing, give and receive constructive criticism, and experiment with new ideas and language.  Help students see learning as an adventure that is taken with friends and work to create a classroom that honors that belief.  As we live out this philosophy in our classrooms, we will create students who recognize learning is an adventure shared with others.