Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Slice of Life: Skipping the Coffee

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

It was late, I was tired, and as I walked through the school's hallway, I was focused on the cup of coffee I'd make on my way upstairs to put on sweats, but then...

"Is that Melanie?" a voice called out from a classroom. 

I stopped. 

"Can I ask a couple of quick questions?"

A quick debate went on in my head as to how late is too late for that coffee. I was already on the brink of too late...

"Of course," I said. "I have time." (Ruth Ayers wrote about the importance of that line years ago. I have time is a powerful word with just about everyone I work with. #especiallydaughters.)

We sat and looked at some student writing. C is new in our district, and he arrived as a fourth-grader with little or no writing experience or writing willingness--it was hard to know which. When this teacher talked about him at the beginning of the year, he refused to write, and when he did, he'd then cross off, erase, or delete most of what he created. 

"He still has so many spelling errors," she said. "What do I do about it?"

As I read his stories (and I did write stories, as in multiple ones), I was impressed with the volume. He filled pages without erasures, without tears, without so many cross-outs that I couldn't read, and with legibility and bravery. Were there spelling mistakes? Yes. But so, so much good. 

I know spelling matters, and I told the teacher that. I even gave her a few strategies for some spelling development. But mostly, I complimented her because she has him writing. And there's so much we can teach once a child is brave enough to write. 

Turns out there are other ways to energize in the late afternoon that don't involve caffeine. 

Happy slicing,


  1. This is a lovely slice. So often we get caught up in the work ahead of us that we forget to stop and celebrate all the ground we've already covered.

  2. There’s something energizing about talking shop about student writing!

  3. Love the phrase, I have time. Very important. Glad you could stop in and compliment this teacher. Sometimes it is hard to see all the progress. Your eyes made the difference.

  4. Also love the phrase, I have time. So many ways to use this in life ... even with ourselves.

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