The Importance of Writing
It doesn’t take a perceptive person to understand that I love writing. It’s why I majored in English in college. It’s why I became a teacher. Fundamentally, I believe that writing well opens doors for people. In desperate times, it can be the thing that feeds the soul.
It’s why I got so worked up during the summer when the state writing test went so badly. It’s why I was excited to hear that we wouldn’t be participating in the Field Test later this month. It’s why I tilted my head like Nipper, the RCA dog, when I heard yesterday that the 5th and 8th grade operational prompts would be in the narrative mode.
I wasn’t upset or frustrated – just surprised. Moreover, I was in the middle of scoring posters for a writing contest at West Junior High in Moore. This was a true Writing Across the Curriculum event, and I was excited to read what so many of these students had written. If the sample I saw was any indication, our students would have done well on the state test answering any kind of a prompt.
The event organizer, literacy coach Kathy Shaw, didn’t just stop there. She asked some people outside the school (including State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister) to address the importance of writing at the evening showcase for their parents, which was held last night. In Kathy’s words:
Our committee wanted to have a video of community leaders (and hopefully celebrities) to address the importance of writing at our Thunder Up for Writing event. We wanted successful leaders to explain how writing is a tool that will be used beyond the walls of the classroom. I emailed Joy and her staff immediately responded that she was thrilled to help us with this event. I appreciated follow up conversations with her staff as they wanted to understand the event and the topic we wanted her to address.
I am pleased to say that Joy addressed the topic, and went beyond anything Kathy expected. What West Junior High received was a video that is nearly five minutes long. You can see it below.
Here are my nine favorite things Joy said in the video (with commentary by me in italics):
- “Writing sharpens your skills in everything.”
- “It makes you a more interesting person.” I’ve been counting on this!
- “Once you find your voice, it stays with you your entire life.”
- “For many, online sites and blogs have replaced newspapers as the news source of choice.” Yes!
- “Using Twitter has also helped me to sharpen my views.”
- “People are much more willing to work with you when you communicate well.”
- “I think an important part of being state superintendent is to encourage discussion.” Such a refreshing change!
- “If you can write well, you can express yourself well, and that means you will be heard.”
- “Your words matter.”
I’ll be honest; that last one got me. Talk about your teachable moment! Our students always need to be told they matter. Their ideas, their words, their voices…every bit of them matters. We have a state superintendent who gets that and takes the time to think about how she wants to express that to our junior high kids in Moore. Hopefully this message will be heard throughout Oklahoma.