Some highly creative poets and writers open their colorfully-decorated journals to share some personal journal writing with the visitors in class. They eagerly anticipate this opportunity because the journals have been “private” from these visitors all year long, until today, that is. While it’s a personal endeavor each school day, these writers like to read and share aloud to classmates, but the visitors are not aware. There truly is magic in the effort of writer to phonetically write and then read words freely without correction or criticism. They smile, giggle, and genuinely enJOY sharing their words, describing everything from slightly exaggerated fishing trips to painful injuries to hopes and dreams for the future. It’s a marvel how they express themselves with great depth, emotional maturity, and compassion for each other as writers and poets!
Throughout the months of this school year, the teacher may have given topic ideas, daily story starters, prompts, and more, however, the contents are left up to each writer for the day. For many, creating an illustration for their daily entry is a favorite part of the writing process, especially to a child who struggles with the process skill of writing.
The visitors took their perspective place alongside each child’s table area. They began to listen, laugh, and identify spontaneously as funny experiences about learning how to ride a bike, what not to say at someone birthday’s party, catching “the big one,” and more poured out from the worn pages of each child’s journal. The visitors placed their arms around each child, wiped their eyes, spoke softly, or laughed belly-style as they listened to individual stories and poems. Here was the true value of writing for these young learners–their unique self-expression was shining through in their own words, allowing each writer’s parent (the visitors today) a brief glimpse inside the child’s perspective of daily school life and living. One parent in particular grasped the journal in her hands exclaiming, “I’ll treasure this always!”
Everyone is a teacher to someone…sometimes it is easy to forget how learners teach us and those around them everyday. With great attitude and effort, these young writers experience the power of the written word daily. As one learner notes, “WRITE on, Mrs. Van!”