My district is wisely putting writing at the top of the list of practices to focus on next year. This has been needed for a long time now, and I'm excited and eagerly anticipating its arrival. Yesterday my staff spent about an hour thinking about this new initiative and the district's beliefs about writing. We were asked to consider the implications for our own classroom practices. From what I could tell, teachers seemed ready to look critically at their writing instruction next year. This is a great place to start.
As I walked away from our meeting, I wondered if at some point it would be beneficial to have a conversation about what writing instruction is not. Knowing what it isn't can sometimes help teachers filter out any old practices that really aren't beneficial to their writers. I immediately began making my own mental list.
Writing instruction is not:
filling in the blank (ie. Over the summer I ____ )
answering questions on a worksheet
focusing solely on conventions
publishing every piece
based on teacher topics
limited to one genre
solely content area writing
I trust Calkins' statement about what our writers need. I believe their skills will develop more rapidly when those things are in place. Without the right belief system, it can sound like a daunting task, but I believe it's doable when we know what writing instruction is and let the other stuff go.
(Feel free to add to my list.)