When your students beg you to write
and leave the classroom talking about writing…
When they email you at night to brag about their plot,
and participate in online forums with other young writers
(which is not a part of their grade)—
When parents say to you, “he won’t stop writing”
and you overhear “sometimes you just gotta kill a character to make it good”
and “who told her that the bell rang?
Who ruined it for the rest of us?”
When students who have struggled to write a paragraph spin plot,
and other teachers ask you what you’re doing,
because your students won’t (can’t?) stop talking—
When students tell you their characters were in their dreams…
You know you hit on something powerful


The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is going along fabulously in my classroom and I am so happy I decided to give up control over my writing lessons this month to actually let students write what they want.

Next month, when we start revising and editing and shaping their wild ideas? I might regret this. But right now, my classroom is full of wild wonder. It is such a contrast to the testing-numbers-ranking-filing that we are expected to do. When the computers come out and the tap-tap-rapping starts, a weight is lifted, and the room is filled with an eager, excited energy.

I went into teaching for this.

6 thoughts on “When

    • No. Not under NCLB. Test scores count. Making a difference isn’t countable, so it doesn’t count.

      Most years, writing doesn’t even count.

      Hell, my students really don’t count. They aren’t a counted subgroup as gifted students, unless they also happen to be Asian, Latino, Black, disabled, or on free or reduced lunch. But gifted students as a subgroup are very much not counted.

    • Reread my reply. I didn’t say I wasn’t making a difference. I said making a difference doesn’t count.

      Now you know what it’s like to teach under NCLB.

      Fact is, you came at me with a platitude at the wrong time, due to things I won’t go into. You couldn’t’ve known that.

      It’s fine to have cliched ideas of what teaching should be. But I have watched uninformed politicians and businesses gain more and more control over education in the past ten years I’ve been doing this. A throw-away platitude that glosses over the reality of being at the bottom of the trickle-down heap feels like a slap in the face.

    • It is! It’s especially exciting to see how many students are writing on the weekends–this was never assigned at homework (as I made very clear), but they’re doing it because they want to.

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