That was Ruth’s challenge to us.
Last week as part of her visit to my classroom, Ruth set aside time to work with the language arts teachers in my middle school.
Her presentation was titled Nudging Joy: If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t know… She spoke about the impact of our own writing lives on the work we do with young writers. It is a topic I have heard Ruth speak about before. It is the heart and soul of her work as a writing coach. It is a message that settles more deeply in my heart and soul and each time I listen to her speak.
It is no surprise that she inspired us to do some writing. We did a quick write in response to Eve Merriam’s poem “A Lazy Thought.” Ruth wrote alongside us.
She shared some things she has learned as a writer and how they’ve impacted her work with writers.
She reminded us to celebrate, to listen to the writerly voices in our heads and shut out the critics, to share our writing habits—the joyful ones and the spirit of endurance when the going gets tough, to think in terms of possibilities, to balance choice and structure, to play purposefully, and to write if not for immediate joy, then for the promise of future joy.
Then, she nudged us to notice what we learned from even the small amount of writing we just did that we could apply to our work with young writers. This was the transformational moment.
Today, my co-teacher and I talked about tomorrow’s lesson. She got this little spark in her eye as she casually mentioned using the quick write from Ruth’s workshop as a model for the lesson about how writers develop a “So What?” in their work. She wants to demonstrate how sometimes you just start writing and figure out the point later.
We are rising to the challenge. Thanks Ruth!