What You Need to Understand…

It took me 13 years of teaching to realize that peer editing scares kids. Of course it does. Writing is incredibly personal. I tell my students I want them to be raw and honest and brave in their writing, and then I ask them to bare their thoughts to their peers. I forgot what it was like to be so exposed in high school. This year I resolved to be as raw and honest and brave in my interactions with my students as I expect them to be in their writing. We spent time right away discovering how each of us work. Using the Compass Points protocol from the National School Reform Faculty, students examined their own inclinations. Northern personalities take charge. Eastern personalities speculate. Southern personalities care. Western personalities organize. And then they got together to talk with peers who are like them. This worked. This really worked. Now they understand that a “East” person might not truly be procrastinating, but rather weighing all the possibilities. The “North” person isn’t necessarily bossy, just a natural leader. We have more trust-building work to do but the cone of safety has begun to form in our classroom cocoons. I want them to know that taking chances in writing will be rewarded and respected, and that starts with trusting each other–and trusting yourself.

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