This is the year i’m going to use purposeful partnerships two writing teachers

Recently I wrote some essays on my beliefs in education. They span from my personal growth, to leadership, and then reflection. They are sitting within my computer waiting for the right place and time. One might say, hibernating. I have a parable-like story I’ve been working on for several months now as well as a realistic fiction story about my great grandmother. There are several story beginnings awaiting their middles and ends in the draft section of my personal blog. I have notebooks with recorded moments, poems, reading notes, and pops of ideas in lots of colors with occasional questions to ponder. These are all the bits and pieces of my own writing life.

My essays and stories were read by my husband, my parents, and a few close friends.

This blog post was read by each of my co-author teammates here at TWT before it came to you today. All of these people, each one, brings perspective, a string of thoughts, and feedback that can range from specific to general. So why is this work important enough for extra eyes to see it? Because it allows the work to have a dry run with its audience.

As I look at my writing life, I realize this is why partnerships hold importance for me as a teacher of writers. My students choose what and when their work goes to an audience, and I listen, advise, and guide from the sidelines. Did my partnerships begin this way? NO. Trial and error played a big role, but I think what carried me to successful and purposeful partnerships has a lot to do with my belief in my students. My belief in their ability to do this work. Together we forged a path where partnerships were collaborative, flexible and most importantly impactful.

Belief is quite possibly one of the most important tools we can carry with us as educators. The belief that the children we work with every day have the potential and ability to progress as learners. When we open up our beliefs to include students as teachers, we have then expanded the learning potentials of every student under our care. Just as I glean inspiration from the feedback and guidance of my peers, my students do the same. If something has held you back from starting or continuing partnerships, it’s time to unpack your hesitation. I think giving ourselves permission to take a break and try again is a valuable strategy and I am reminded of Aubri from my blog series preview post earlier today. Anticipate failure, respond to failure, and gain ground from failure.

For me, starting early with assigned partners can help eliminate some guesswork, shorten transition times, and support partnerships with some structure in the beginning. These beginning partnerships are often short-term and frequently flexible as we build a community at the beginning of the year. Your decision to assign or allow student choice, in the beginning, may be influenced by your students’ familiarity with purposeful partnership expectations. You may find that allowing choice from the beginning gives you the opportunity to determine what layers of guidance are needed as you build toward independent partnerships as an end goal.

Discussing the roles within partnerships is important. From kindergarten and up, young writers can take on these roles as listeners and talkers. You’ll find that once students have a good understanding of how partnerships work, flexibility within those partnerships will be a novelty. Writers might begin with the assigned partner followed by sharing with a partner of their choosing. Opening up the possibility of sharing with more than one partner gives a writer the opportunity to practice the roles related to partnerships more than once in a workshop cycle.

This chart is more detailed. As you work together and reflect as a group, you will likely take your basic “What is My Job?” chart and grow it to meet the needs of your students. I find collaborative conversations helps students frame what’s working and what is not with the idea that as a community we can adapt to the needs of the whole group. For more on expanding your intentions through writing partnerships, see Intentional Talk with Writing Partners.

Hurdles will tempt us to doubt the progress we’ve made. The shape of a solution is all in how we respond to the challenge. Typical mid-year hurdles might start with routines that worked, suddenly not working anymore. A writer who just can’t seem to work with anyone. The partnership that is more interested in taking apart their pens than workshopping their writing. The new student. Switching up partnerships. The impromptu principal walk-through and that little voice inside your head saying, “This isn’t going to look like I’m teaching anything.”