Monday, May 28, 2018
Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres
Negative thoughts about writing are not foreign to me. Yet, I write because I know writing changes me. I am influenced by the writing of others. I become a better educator every time I read a blog post, article, or professional book on literacy instruction. I also become a better educator every time I write about my practice as it leads me to understand and reflect. I've connected with and inspired others through my writing. Writing is important and essential. As much of a struggle that writing is for me, I love to teach writing. My belief that there is power in words is one that I want my students to understand and experience. Even when our students hate writing they deserve to be enticed, to become a part of a community of writers who share their stories to bring light to their own lives and the lives of others.
As the title suggests, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers offers insight into the how and why of enticing those student writers who are struggling and reluctant. In Part I of the book, Ruth guides us to better understand students who have to be enticed. She includes personal stories about her children who have come from hard places and explains how trauma impacts the brain and learning. Part II of the book explores how we can create an environment that supports students who avoid writing or find it a hard or even impossible task. The chapters highlight the importance of writing workshop and being a writing teacher who writes. In Part III, Ruth offers practical suggestions for moves we can make that will support student's confidence in themselves as writers, strengthen their beliefs in the power of their stories, and help them develop their writing skills.
Ruth's book is a professional text, providing ideas for writing instruction that will support all writers including those who have experienced trauma, but it is also the story of an educator whose personal and professional experiences have shaped her beliefs about writing, writing workshop, and teaching students who have lived in dark places, but with time and support can heal. There were parts of the book that moved me as I read Ruth's stories and thought about students I have taught who have also come from hard places. As I read chapter after chapter, I also found myself thinking about how the writing could serve as a mentor for myself as a writer. This book is inspirational and practical, but also relevant as we can all think of students in our classrooms who've needed to be enticed to write.