Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month, we share conversation about the role and necessity of play in learning.
The value of play does not disappear after early childhood.
Writing with Mentors authors Rebekah O’Dell and Allison Marchetti describe how factors, such as formulaic writing and grades, “dismantle” students’ natural state of play and replace it with fear of experimentation.
When determining how to best organize The Writing Strategies Book, Jen Serravallo considered many different approaches. She considered organizing it based on the stages in the writing process, or by genre, but In the end came back to organizing the book around eleven writing goals. This likely comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Jen's Reading Strategies Book or any of her other recent work. In Jen's own words: "Helping kids to articulate clear goals for their work, and supporting them with strategies and feedback to accomplish those goals, makes a huge difference in their ability to succeed."
Our time in the classroom can be transformative in profound ways. For some, this issue becomes more than dealing with content and students in an ethical way. It expands into a broader realm, that of social justice, as described by Sonia Nieto:
Teachers enter the profession for any number of reasons, but neither fame nor money nor the promise of lavish working conditions is at the top of that list. Instead . . . for many of them, social justice figures prominently among the motivating factors underlying their choice to teach. The urge to live a life of service that entails a commitment to the ideals of democracy, fair play, and equality is strong among many of those who begin teaching. (2003, 91)
Nieto continues, though, to remind us that “teachers are not miracle workers. Nor are they social workers or missionaries.” Instead, “teachers need to understand their roles as involving more than simply attending to the minds of students; it also entails nurturing their hearts and souls . . . to do this without taking on the world of injustice is tricky business . . . an equilibrium that is difficult at best” (105).
Veteran teacher and author Colleen Cruz has seen it all and done it all in the writing classroom—and she’s got something to admit: this is hard work. Real hard. In The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, she takes on the common concerns, struggles, and roadblocks that we all face in writing instruction and helps us engage in the process of problem-solving each one.