Dear Students – 30/31 #SOL20

Dear Students,

I don’t quite know where to begin this letter, or at least, this is the umpteenth time that I’ve begun this letter because writing is all about the drafts, which, of course, you already know, because you heard me say this when we were in class. I mean, I know my purpose for writing, but I worry about my purpose for reading and whether or not this letter will adequately convey the complexity of my thoughts and the incongruence of my emotions. I started drafting an outline, but this isn’t an essay or a poem or a short story or any of the usual forms of writing. This is the kind of message that sort of follows one’s heart.

letter planningAnd, I definitely don’t want this to come off as some tearful, needy, “I am not complete without you” burdening message because, let’s face it, I’m the adult in the room. And that is disingenuous, and no teenager needs to feel the burden of an adult’s emotional life. You need us to keep teaching and supporting your learning, so I think what I want to do in this letter is share a little bit of my learning and we can figure out where this goes.

One of my most significant lessons has been from my writing, here, on this blog. At the beginning of March, I committed to writing a post every day for 31 days, and here I am at Day 30. Wow, I can hardly believe it. There were some days I wasn’t sure if I’d make it and some of my writing really sucked, but there were some days when I just had to just write something and post it without worrying. Just let it go. Stop aiming for perfection in every piece. Get it done and move on.

I guess what I really learned here is that just like me, you are going to struggle with writing. But, what you need is a teacher that writes. Regularly. In fact, maybe even daily. And another lesson that grew out of this daily practice of writing was a heightened sense of awareness. I started paying closer attention to the world around me, my neighbours, my dog, and this grew a kind of curiosity in me. As I wrote about them, I wondered about their challenges and how they were doing in this time of “social distancing”.

Irony: the opposite of what is expected. Do you see it here? But, maybe it’s more than irony. Maybe it’s a paradox, two seemingly contradictory ideas that hold an essential truth. That is, the physical distancing actually brings us closer to one another socially. Do you think that might be true?

Did I tell you that I’m practicing lessons using Screencastify? It’s taking time to plan, but I think it’s going to be really helpful for learning at home. I’m making a lesson on essay writing, but what I really want to do is make a bunch of lessons on creative writing; how punctuation can convey – remember conveyor belt – ideas in your writing. I want you to look up words and use visuwords to build better ways of expressing your thinking. Furthermore, I could also do a lesson on transitional words, and in light of this opportunity, phrases as well.

And, this increased use of technology is taking up a lot of my time! I had three hours evapourate like water on a summer sidewalk yesterday (see that simile) when I impulsively decided to change my WordPress blog theme and couldn’t get the functions working; it was a lesson in patience and perseverance. It’s still not exactly as I want it, but the truth is, I made a change and I’m going to keep making those changes, slowly and intentionally, so I can get better. Tomorrow, which is indefinite and unsettled, but I’m going to stay open to the possibilities.

And did I mention that writing daily is really helpful? I did? Oh yes, I did.

But what I didn’t tell you is how many different forms of writing there are. Take for example, this one, right here. This is epistolary; a story that is carried by letters. Ideally, you would reply to this letter, and then I’d reply, and we’d have this story of our time in quarantine during COVID-19. We could call it, Letters in the time of COVID-19.

So I am posting this letter from my blog in the Google Classroom today, and I’m going to wait for you to reply so we can build this story together.

9 thoughts on “Dear Students – 30/31 #SOL20

  1. Oh, my goodness, I LOVE this! I love your honesty, openness, reflection and all the purposes you demonstrate here. I hope your students respond (I think they will!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you joined the challenge! It is a time for growth for me every year. I grow as a writer, as a teacher, and has a human being. I love this letter to your students. And I really related to the sentiment that our students don’t need the burden of our emotions placed on them. They have their own to deal with. I hope you’ll keep writing every Tuesday! And I am grateful for OUR increased social connection. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite line “I had three hours evapourate like water on a summer sidewalk yesterday (see that simile)” – I see what you did there! It makes a load of difference when we can connect with our students in a variety of ways. Your openness is welcoming without being overbearing “let’s face it, I’m the adult in the room. And that is disingenuous,…”
    It has been great getting to know you and your writing this March.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a rawness and honesty here I appreciate. The way you talk about noticing more through writing is lovely, as are the confessional parts about what you want students to notice about writing. I always find myself drawn to metafictional threads that draw our attention to the act of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two letters already!? That’s amazing! I’m really glad you joined this challenge this year. I find your whole letter inspiring (should I try one myself? Not sure… hmmm… maybe…), but I take particular note of the way that writing every day gives you insight into your students’ writing. How sometimes we just have to publish a piece that stinks, how we have to let go of perfection. I can’t wait to keep writing & learning with you as we continue forward through the rest of this school year and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

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