Writing is hard. Really hard. I mostly write when I have to write – school or course-related writing or writing in front of my students. I just recently finished writing my dissertation, and, boy, was it hard. The agony of sitting in front of my computer trying to craft a sentence that gets my point across or organize my thoughts into a paragraph that flows smoothly made me want to give up on a daily basis. I am baffled by those who find joy in writing. Writing is just so hard. I know how many of my students feel. I can relate to how it feels to look at a blank page and not to have any idea about what to write or know how to start and then when I do start not know how to keep going. As I write this paragraph, and get distracted with checking my email and Twitter (which I just did before I started writing), I understand why some students always have to make a trip to the bathroom or get up multiple times to sharpen their pencil during writer’s workshop. I know how it feels. Writing is just so very hard.
And, yet, here I am starting my own blog and writing my first Slice of Life. I know that writing is hard, but I also know the power of writing. Writing can help us reflect and learn. Through writing we can understand one another. Writing can create change. So, I am stepping out of my comfort zone. By writing more about my teaching I am doing something I am not familiar or comfortable with – writing for the joy. Blogging and writing is a challenge, but I’m hoping from that challenge I will grow as a writer and a teacher. Maybe, someday writing won’t be quite so hard.
The goal for our students is that they grow and learn. They, too, need to step out of their comfort zones. If students take risks, try new things, and challenge themselves, not only can their writing benefit, but learning, in general. As teachers, we can encourage students to step out of their comfort zones. We can share stories of others who have done this. There are many children’s books, picture books and biographies, that tell the stories of individuals who took a risk to accomplish something. These stories can open up conversations about risk-taking, failure, persistance, and success. In addition, teachers can model their own attempts to step out of their comfort zone. My decision to blog and write more, even though it’s something I’m not entirely comfortable with, is something I can share with students. Sharing our own struggles with writing and learning is powerful. In the classroom, failure, or more accurately, mistakes should be embraced. Our mistakes help us learn and grow, but students don’t always understand this. We can foster an environment in which students learn from their own and others’ mistakes and persist in achieving success.
Writing is hard. Learning is hard. Taking on a challenge is hard. But, remaining in one’s comfort zone is too easy and we risk finding the joy and creating opportunities to grow and learn.