I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen a teacher write in front of me. My memory rarely serves me well, but I'm pretty sure I haven't. Wouldn't this be akin to showing someone like myself a beautifully crafted quilt and then saying, "Now you go make one just like it." I need more than that. I need even more than simply talking me through it. I need to see the process first. I believe this is similar to what we're asking of our writers when all that we show them is finished pieces.
The topic of writing in front of our students recently came up in a meeting I was at. We were discussing the essentials of daily writing instruction. An honest question was asked regarding the validity of modeled writing. I'm glad they asked. I doubt they were the only one who hadn't thought about its importance before. The whole conversation, which was a great one, reminded me of Graves' quote. A lifetime is a long time for our young writers to live without seeing their teachers model writing in front of them.
So why should our writers see us write in front of them?
* They need to see it's normal and okay to struggle with any and every part of the process.
* They need to see writers use strategies to overcome their struggles.
* They need to see how writers cross out, mess up, and revise on the go.
* They need to see how writers make choices.
* They need to see the joy writers experience when ideas and words click.
Why don't we write in front of our writers?
* We're fearful.
* We're embarrassed.
* We lack confidence.
* We're unaware of its importance.
Writing in front of anyone, even a first grader, can indeed be intimidating. My head and heart don't often get the words right on the first try and openly sharing that struggle is difficult. But that's exactly what they need to see. Sharing my writing space with my students lets them in on some secrets of writing that shouldn't be secret. They'll hopefully go more confidently into their own writing space because of it.