Utter silence fell over the room as the students became absorbed by their work. After a while, conversations flared up: Partners began asking questions, offering suggestions, collaborating toward the goal of refining each other's work. Students asked me questions, too -- good ones. Questions that went waaaay past mechanics and into the realm of style and tone.
A lot of the students weren't satisfied with just one editor. Of their own accord, many sought out what I call "another set of eyeballs to roll across the page."
Did I mention that yesterday was a Friday? Yet such was the atmosphere of every class in Room 213E, straight through to the final bell of the day. I didn't feel like a middle school Language Arts teacher: I felt like a paid professional consultant at a writers' workshop. (If only I'd had a video camera.) I can't wait to read what they've written!
Wonderful though yesterday was, I knew that it would come. It happens every year -- eventually. Each year, one of the hardest things for students (and their parents) to accept is that learning to write well is a long and difficult process. It's probably even more difficult for Americans, given our "quick fix" mindset. Lots of kids want to give up along the way, particularly if everything else in life comes easily to them. All a teacher can do is plug away at allaying their fears, offering advice and encouragement, and promising them that, eventually, the pieces will fall into place.
Yesterday just may have been that day.