I sat in a ELA planning session today with middle school teachers and listened to teachers discuss the plans for having their students write essays. What shocked me was the amount of negativity I heard. The students could not be as bad as they claimed. After all, they are 7th graders with some education under their belts and anyone that has taught middle school knows they have opinions. Getting 7th graders to write those opinions down into cohesive thoughts is a challenge but not impossible.
My role as an instructional literacy coach is to listen, ask questions where needed, and be available for support. I could not support negativity of any kind especially against students. When we doubt the abilities of a child we doubt our future. The only disservice we are doing is to ourselves. Since I was unable to support and could no longer listen, I asked my question.
Sit down to plan
Eager and ready.
Bubble is popped
They spew negativity.
Can’t write an essay,
Can’t form a sentence,
Does not have a thought,
Not worth admittance!
Are the students that bad?
Can none of them write?
Why bother teaching?
Is it not worth a fight?
My role in this is to listen
And occasionally pose a question.
“If they are not were you want them,
Why don’t you teach ‘em?”
After my question, which was worded much more tactfully than my poem allows for rhyme and meter, the planning took a turn for the positive. I heard conversation about what worked in each class and how it could be incorporated in other classes. They discussed modeling writing for the students first and breaking the essay down into smaller chunks. The teachers modified the prompt for better understanding and on a topic the students could relate. I left feeling great about what was planned for future writing instruction and I believe the teachers felt better as well.
How do you overcome negativity in yourself or others? I have to remind myself to stay positive, is it hard for you to stay positive?
During the month of March 2015, I will be completing a daily blog as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge! More Slice of Life posts from other bloggers can be found on Two Writing Teachers. READ & JOIN US! You can sign up here!