Friday, October 18, 2013

Read, Respond, Relate: How Authentic Literacy Builds Relationships

As teachers, we have an overwhelming number of tasks that are part of our work.  Because time is a limited resource, we have to sometimes pick and choose, to the extent that we have choice, which tasks are most vital.
Being responsible, in large part, for a child's developing literacy is no small thing.
The foundation of teaching is relationship. Teaching is, in itself, an ongoing conversation between teachers and students.

In the old days (not the "good old days") I was an advocate of the interactive journal. Students wrote. I read and responded. It took so much time. Every Friday I carried home a heavy box filled with spiral notebooks. I spent a good portion of my weekend learning about my students, understanding what they understood, learning about their hopes, their families, their pets.
At one point, in an attempt to lessen my workload, I offered that turning in journals for my response would be optional. I had not one student opt out. And, even though my workload remained hard, I was happy. I knew it was the right use of my time.

Blogs are, at least physically, a lighter load. No longer do I have to lug a box of notebooks home and back. Although the medium has changed, the task itself and the benefits it conveys, is basically the same. It is important to me to carve out regular time to visit each student's blog, to read and to respond.
It is hard to quantify the value in terms of building relationships, modeling quality writing and ongoing assessment of students' thinking and writing. (This is not a post about grades, but this is another reason that I find grades stifling. How does one grade an ongoing conversation? )

1 comment:

Stephanie Faison said...

Hello Mrs. Hernandez! My name is Stephanie Faison, and I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama.

I remember journaling in high school. I loved the responses I would get from my teacher, and it really helped build up our relationship. Five years later, I'm still in touch with her on Facebook. Once I start teaching, I'm going to have a class blog, that way I can encourage my students the same way that my teacher did.

I'll be summarizing my blog posts here at my personal blog in a couple of weeks here.