Teachers Write 8/9 Thursday Quick-Write

Today’s Thursday Quick-Write has a twist; we’re turning the writer’s lens on ourselves.

For ten weeks now, we’ve been hanging out here, writing together and talking together, nurturing one another as teachers and writers. When I started this online camp with Gae and Jen in response to a casual Twitter exchange, I never imagined how many of you would show up, how talented and passionate and brave you would be, and how thankful I’d be for this opportunity to write and learn with you. I hope you’ve learned some stuff, too…maybe about writing and teaching, and maybe about yourself and your voice.

Today’s prompt:  (You are being granted special time-travel abilities for this one.)  Write a letter to yourself of 10 weeks ago.  It will be sent back through time and delivered to you on June 1st, 2012…right before you sign up for Teachers Write.  What advice would you give yourself?  What can you tell yourself about what the experience will be like and how it might change your writing or teaching?

Here’s mine…

Dear Kate,

Today, you are going to notice some of your Twitter teacher-friends talking about their goals to write this summer, and it will occur to you that it might be fun to set up a virtual writing camp.  Go ahead and do it, even though it’s not going to go the way you’re imagining.  You’re probably picturing a dozen people, right? Maybe twenty? Multiply that by 50 and you’ll be a little closer. It’ll freak you out at first when you see all those people signing up, but don’t worry — they are amazing people who will be happy to be here and patient with your summer schedule. Besides, tons of generous and talented authors are going to show up to pitch in. This probably doesn’t surprise you, does it? The children’s and YA writer community is amazing like that.

What will surprise you is just how much you are moved when you sit down to read the comments every day. These teachers and librarians will be so smart, so brave. They will try new things. Some will be afraid at first, but they will be so good to one another, so supportive, that new voices will emerge every week.  And these voices will be full of passion and beauty, humor and joy and poignancy.  They will be amazing, and they will make you cry sometimes, in the best possible way.

So go on… Write that introductory blog post, even though you’re biting off way more than you know. It will be worth every second, and when August comes, you will not be ready to let go. Not even close.

Warmly,   Kate

P.S. You might want to consider writing & scheduling the last two posts ahead of time so you don’t have to stay up so late on the 8th. You have to be up at 4am for a flight to St. Louis. Just a suggestion… 🙂

Your turn now…  Put today’s date on the paper, and then write your message to be sent to yourself, back through time. Share it in comments, too, if you’d like.  And be sure to visit tomorrow for our final Teachers Write Summer Happy Hour and news about what comes next.

 

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28 Comments

  1. Kristina Paustian
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Dear Kristina,
    You think you will grow as a writer this summer by challenging yourself to sign up for this camp. You have no idea how much you will learn from all of these generous authors freely giving their time and wonderful ideas and advice. You will never dream how eagerly you will check to see what others have written or commented because it is so interesting. You will have a summer of learning like none before AND at the end you will hear that something is coming next. That will make you so happy! You will also learn that Kate is a mentor author that is organized, generous, talented and want to buy everything she has written. Signing up for this camp will be a gift to yourself…you will see!
    Have a great summer,
    Kristina

  2. Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Dear Margaret,
    You have committed yourself to writing this summer, but what does that really mean? You’ve signed up for the Teachers Write Camp. What were you thinking? Did you realize that in the beginning you will be shy and lurk around reading others’ writing without sharing? Don’t worry. You’ll get over it and jump in and when you do, the responses you receive will keep you going in for more. You will meet and learn from many wonderful new authors. You will feel a part of the writing world, no longer alone, hanging out with friends. Don’t hesitate to go over for Friday feedback. You have a new friend and cheerleader waiting there for you. And when you come to the end of the camp, you will feel tired and invigorated all at the same time. Also, you will be asked to do your own real writing workshop with teachers and because you’ve been here all summer, you will have new and fun things to share with your colleagues about teaching writing, not to mention the great ideas you will have for your own classroom. So, go ahead, go to writing camp!

  3. Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Good morning,

    I write this greeting because you will find your self writing almost every morning as you drink coffee, watch sports center and just wake up. The biggest lesson you will learn is to write. It doesn’t matter if it is a 2 minute time limit or a couple of pages. By having it down on “paper” you have something to work with.
    Also, you will remember what fun it is to write in a notebook. Remember your school notebooks? How much poetry and writing you did instead of taking notes? The purple note book will be fun to carry around.
    Most importantly, I know you have doubts. I know you don’t think your any good at this craft. The doubts won’t go away until you write. Who knows if you can do this unless you try. Your sons have shared their dreams with you this summer. What better way to show them they can achieve them by finally striving for your own.
    Write on….

  4. Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Dear Kimberley,

    You pushed and pushed to get into the Southern Maine Writing Project, why are you dragging your feet now? You are in, the district is paying for it. It does seem kind of early in the summer to have to put the kids back in daycare so you can write. What about doing Teachers Write! instead? You could totally cancel that class and try to figure out how to write every day at home so that it becomes a part of your life instead of a class you are taking with a beginning and an end. Do that! You might have no idea what the Teachers Write! thing is going to be and you tend to drop things after that first excited push to do something new, but this could be very different. You’ve wanted to write your whole life.Get that picture book out of your mind. Figure out what kind of writing you want to do long term. But, this time, stick to it until you feel like you are a writer and then keep writing after that. Don’t let the hard writing days, the no writing days, and the bad thoughts about yourself stop you from feeling like a writer. This is your chance to change who you are.

  5. Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Dear Diane,

    You may know the main ingredient that makes you want to do Teacher’s Write. You know it, but you don’t always do it. Community and reminders help. That’s what the summer camp will be about. The main reminder: write. I don’t care if it’s 1 minute or 15 minutes or 3 hours a day, just write. Fellow mentors and passengers along the way make all the difference, your reminder to keep going. You’ll be amazed at how far you can get with just a little bit of plodding along (or plotting!) every day. Don’t look up, just keep moving…you’ll see!

  6. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Kate,

    Just had to say I loved the P.S. of your letter.

    Safe travels.

    And thanks for all the writing magic you helped create this summer!

    Donna

  7. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Dear Andy,

    This is the first summer in eleven years that you will not be teaching summer school. It is appalling that the district cut such an unbelievable summer program for elementary kids. Don’t get too depressed though because a golden opportunity to move your own writing ahead and learn from some of the best young adult and middle grade authors in the world is right in front of you. Teachers Write will lead you to your best summer of writing and learning that you have ever had.

    Make sure that you set realistic writing goals for yourself because you want this opportunity to feel successful in the end. Also, be sure to take good notes and pay close attention to all of the published authors that will share their writing secrets with you. By the end of the program, you will have dozens of writing activities that will compliment the writing lessons that you already use in your classroom. And most importantly, read what the other campers are writing and offer critical but encouraging feedback like you would to your own sixth grade students. It is also important to make some friends that are going through the same things that you are as a teacher, a reader, and a writer.

    Also, be sure to participate in the virtual pool party. Don’t be shy about sharing your writing because the authors and campers are great people that want to see you succeed. They may even clap for you and that will help your confidence as a writer. Don’t forget to give many, many, many thanks to Kate, Gae, Jen, and all of the authors that shared during the summer. They deserve an enormous amount of praise for making this an AWESOME summer of learning for you and the other campers.

    By the end of the summer, you will be a more confident writer, a well-prepared writing teacher, will have read many novels from the authors that shared lessons, and you will have met some VERY COOL people.

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I am so happy to have met you Andy. I truly hope we will stay in contact. If you ever want an eye or an ear or a friend, please be sure to contact me. My facebook is Kimberley Gorelik Moran and my email is kagmoran at gmail dot com.

      • Posted August 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Hi, Kimberley!
        Thank you for the nice reply. It was a real joy meeting you, and I would love to stay in touch. My email address is starowiczandrew at gmail dot com. The only bad part about Teachers Write is that it ends tomorrow:(. Enjoy the day and happy writing!

  8. Mary
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mary,

    You will find it hard to imagine now, but by August your TBR list will grow exponentially, you will have had the privilege to virtually commune with hundreds of fellow writers, and you will have to glue additional pages into your writer’s notebook or start a new one. You will have been given constructive feedback about your work and realized that picture books might be your calling.
    (Okay, poetry, too, but you already knew this.). That novel or middle grade book lies in the future.

    You will find yourself sharing the camp’s address on the Write to Think, Think to Write blog of the Greater Madison Writing Project. You will find enthusiastic responses abound from this year’s fellows when you share info. about camp.

    You will meet authors whose work you know and others whose work you want/need to know better. You will be awed by their candor and encouragement. You will find yourself searching for their blogs and websites and seeking their books in bookstores. You will find yourself stalking..ahem…examining their itineraries for events nearby.(Yes! Kate is going to present at WSRA in Milwaukee in early February!)

    You will write. You will look at your shi….. first drafts with new understanding and patience. You will write in your brain, in your notebook, in your sleep?-yes, in your sleep. (Reading what you write in your sleep is a different matter. Please refer to sentence two of this paragraph.) You will support fellow campers with comments and query guest counselors for their expertise and perspectives. You will write. You will record the little moments you harvest in unusual places on scraps of wrappers, newsprint, or empty bank envelopes with renewed vigor. You will struggle to find a theme or hook for that mss due on September first, and wonder where Capt. Hook is when you really need him. You will write.

    You will absorb the models of published authors and fellow campers as they flash edit, encourage, and cheer on each other. You promise yourself you will use these models as you work with the still forming voices in class this year. You will remind yourself that noticing the little moments in a piece will help to keep it moving forward. You will apply this to your own work and in your work with students. You will use the prompts, suggestions and tools to help your students and yourself. New understandings and insights will come to you. Embrace them.

    You will be amazed at what a community of writers can accomplish in a virtual camp. You commit yourself to developing a similar community with students. You will consider the possibility of developing one for your colleagues too.

    You will be grateful. You will be thrilled to have wandered into camp and will find yourself changed by it. You will have been changed for good.

    Have a great summer! Enjoy the pool party! Be sure to write home once or twice! 🙂

    I am, as always,

    Mary

    P.S. Remember, chicken tikka masala is a great antidote for technical frustration. Use aloe for the sunburn.

  9. Gae Polisner
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, it is the crying part of the program.

    That, or I am just a wuss.

    OMG, I love this so much. I will NOT write a letter, mine would echo Kate’s too much, and not be nearly as eloquent. I will just say that you have all made me feel like more of a writer, so it’s been a bit of a Gift of the Magi.

    In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have come up with a better way to spend my summer. Unless it involved $20K and a Villa in Italy.

    Close the summer strong, and PLEASE stick around on Friday Feedback.

    xox gae

    • Mary
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      No tears…

      BTW, if you live the dream, send a postcard so we can celebrate with you and drool with envy .

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I KNOW! 🙁

      I don’t want it to end. Please don’t make us cry tomorrow at Friday Feedback.

      • gae Polisner
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I’m not gonna make you cry. No last days at FF tomorrow. It’s business as usual, though maybe I’ll take a week off at the end of the month. 😀

  10. Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Dear Margo,

    You have admired Kate Messner and her writing for a long time and have bought her books for your granddaughters and had her sign them, and have had nice email exchanges, so gather up your courage and volunteer to be one of the guest authors on Teachers Write for a Wednesday and do a Quick Write. It won’t take too much time — and you’ll really enjoy getting to know the teachers and other guest authors. In all honesty, you’ll be impressed by the enthusiasm of Kate, Gae, and Jen and all of the campers and will find many gems from the guest authors that will help to spark your own writing. It will become a virtual community that you’ll remeber with great fondness and smile about as you look back on these weeks. So, go ahead, and you ‘ll find you’ll grow as a writer, as well.

    Aloha,
    Margo 🙂

  11. Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Dear Amy,
    You have seen an invitation to participate in this special opportunity called Teachers Write, Virtual Summer Writing Camp. You don’t know it yet, but you are going to learn so much about writing and the things writers do to inspire their work, finding inspiration in the everyday, progressing through research, revising, setting goals and sharing your work in an on-line community of others who will be supportive to a newbie-writer just like you. An opportunity like this will help nudge you to fulfill your goal of someday becoming a published children’s literature author. Here are some of all the great mentors you’ll be connected with, Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jen Vincent, Jo Knowles, Pam Bachorz, Margo Sorenson, Sara Lewis Holmes, Miriam Foster, Barb Rosenstock, and Jody Feldman just to name a few…You’ll also connect with other camper-writers along the way and be inspired by them too (Margaret, Jayme, Andy, Diane)…

    Here is some advice as you prepare for camp:
    1. Prepare to write everyday-but make your program work for you-you know that having your 7 year old and 19 month old children will put demands on your time that may pull you away from your writing work, but get back to it when you can. 😉

    2. Share what you are doing with others.

    3. Learn all you can from this community of experts- authors, teachers, and librarians.

    4. Don’t be afraid to take risks, like the motto on your blog-“a ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are for”.

    5. At some point, work up enough self-confidence to join a critique group (if you don’t get to this point, it’s ok-just keep working at it).

    6. Remember, the best writers are also avid readers (make time to read too)-you may have to give up watching TV-take something off your plate to get all of this done-the effort you put into it will pay-off someday.

    7. Write every day.

    8. Write every day.

    9. Write every day.

    10. And write every day-even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

    You may not always be able to all 10 things on your list, but try. Oh, and if you do nothing else, write every day! So, you’re off and away to camp real soon, enjoy the learning you “virtual teachers write camper” you!
    On your mark, get set, write!
    Amy
    🙂

  12. Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Dear Von,

    I know you are really excited about summer vacation beginning soon! This has been a very challenging year and you are ready to unwind and enjoy some time away from school. I encourage you to spend more time tweeting on your professional twitter page this summer. I know you eat, sleep, and breath various professional developments all year long, but you are about to come across a group of authors who will change your perspective on writing.

    When you see a tweet to sign up for a virtual summer camp that will begin in June, don’t hesitate to sign up. Some of the people who will be apart of this camp will be working towards publishing material, others, like you, will be working to better their writing ability and those of their students. You will see great examples of assignments from different perspectives posted with each lesson covered. Don’t allow that to intimidate you, instead allow it to help shape your abilities and vision as a writer. 

    You will also be exposed to some new and known published authors along with great ideas and practices to make writing come alive. Be sure to save websites and identify books you would like to use for the upcoming school year. You want to make the most of every aspect of this experience. Also make sure you blog about your challenges, ideas to use in the classroom, and your overall experiences. That way you have access to the original lessons and a reminder of your experiences to share with your students.

    Last, but not least, have fun! Enjoy the new writing community that you will become a part of and allow it to remind you how important it is to create a strong writing community in your classroom.

    Have a Great Summer,

    Von

    P.S.

    Don’t forget to thank all of the authors who help to make this experience great!

    P.S.S.

    Keep blogging!!!!

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS EXPERIENCE UNFORGETTABLE 🙂

     

  13. Erika Victor
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Dear Erika,
    Just do it! You know that you want to sign up for camp, especially writing camp. You always wonder how other teachers feel like teaching writing is easier than teaching reading, so this is your chance to get a little bit better. Summers always feel a combination of endless and limited, but you definitely need a few goals to keep you hopping this summer. So, even if you do not participate much remember that you are living what you teach- being a lifelong learner means stretching and growing. You love reading, so learning from all of the amazing authors will give you connections to even more awesome authors.
    Best,
    Erika

    PS. Added today-Thanks Kate, Gae, and Jen! Thanks to all of the guest authors! Thanks to all of the fellow campers who put their writing out there. I have learned from you all!

  14. Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    You guys totally made me cry in the Philadelphia airport today. I’m going to give a speed to the Scholastic Book Fair workers now, and among other things, I am going to tell them about you and how awesome you are. Every kid in every classroom should have teachers like you. xo

  15. Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Scaredy Cat,
    Today your lurking on Twitter has paid off! You found this little online thing called Teachers Write, didn’t you, and you think it is an easy way to play at writing. It looks like fun and you know that some amazing authors will be participating, too. How exciting for you!!

    While it sounds like great summer fun, let me warn you:

    This is only the beginning.

    Yes, you start off strong, participating in every mini-lesson and gathering momentum. You share some of your early writing. Cool! You have the opportunity to ask Real Authors their advice about writing. Awesome! You even share your writing at a pool party “live” on Spreecast after hours and hours and hours of technical difficulties. (Hours!) You write thousands and thousands of words! THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS! Yippee!!

    But then you get stuck. You struggle. You cry. You think about giving up. What you don’t realize, though, is that you can’t. I know you are nervous, but I also know your heart. You have courage and you are just persistent enough, ok stubborn enough- remember those technical difficulties (ACK!) – but I’m trying to give you some encouragement here – so KEEP GOING.

    Because at the end of these 10 weeks, there is another beginning. School is right around the corner, but now you can see other possibilities. Yes. You will keep writing. You will get stuck, you just might cry, and you will write more.

    So as you create your cute little Teachers Write blog with a swirly orange background and a festive font, remember this: You are a writer. Yes, you. Are.

    Now write.

    Love,
    You (and Me), your BFF and Worst Critic, all rolled up in a smile.
    🙂

  16. Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear Susan,
    Get the excuses out of the way first – not enough time, not enough talent, not enough to say. You know deep down in the pit of your stomach that you really, really, want to do this. Writing whenever and however you can, no pressure at all, with talented people who only want you to succeed. How can you possible say no to that? (And think about those 7th graders in the fall – how will you let them know you only want them to succeed, too? You surely will learn some tips about that process here.)

    Perhaps it will turn out that you really do have something to say and people who are actually interested in your words and in sharing their words which in turn gives you more to think about. Perhaps you will learn how a single encouraging word (even if it’s said to someone else) can make all the difference. Perhaps you will grow your writing muscles so that you come from a place of strength when the kids come in your classroom. Perhaps it will be good to feel what they feel – the excitement, the anxiety, the fear, the dread, and the pride. Perhaps you can learn from other teachers and writers how to make it more about the excitement and the pride.

    Who knows? It might even feel like coming home. Do it.

    Love,
    Susan

  17. Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Dear Kim,
    I know you have been wondering what in the world you will do this summer-your first summer in years that you won’t be taking classes or mentoring writing project teachers. Well, I know you have the young author’s camp to teach, but while you are figuring what else you want to do during the summer, you should sign up for a writing camp that you can participate right from the comfort of your own house! Sound too good to be true? Well, you know that author, Kate Messner, the one that wrote the book, Real Revision that you just bought and put on your “Summer Reading” shelf and the Marty McGuire books you and your second graders loved? She’s offering this Summer Writing Camp opportunity on her blog and is calling it Teacher’s Write.
    I know what you’re thinking. You always put yourself down and think you have nothing worth sharing. You have proved yourself over and over. In 2005, you took the Maine Writing Project and became much more confident and shared your work with others. That inspired you to write in front of your students and you never looked back. Your students admire your writing and I’m sure adults will appreciate it as well. You also have your masters in literacy and your C. A. S. in writing. What are you waiting for-just sign up and see what happens!
    One great thing that will come from it is you will get lots of positive feedback from a caring community of writers. If you want constructive feedback, they’ll give you that, too. You just need to ask! You might even join a Maine Writing Group on Facebook in the midst of the course. The writers in that group will share their writing work and they might inspire you to write a book one day. You have a lot of ideas and you’ve written many of them already.
    You will be impressed with the amazing authors that join the blog each day to share lessons. Through their sharing, you will read their blogs and probably buy a few new books you didn’t have before. If you’re lucky, and I think you might be, you will even win a book during the summer writing course!
    I’m sure you’ll go right to that blog and sign up as soon as you read this letter, because if I know you as well as I think I do, you will not want to miss out on this wonderful opportunity that Kate Messner has provided.
    Fondly, Kim

  18. Mary
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    What amazing voices we have! Thank you to everyone for sharing!

  19. Posted August 10, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    These made me tear up and I barely met half of you! Thank you Kate for inviting authors to be a part of TeachersWrite! Thank you teachers, for all you do for your kids, and for THIS YEAR when you will make writing come alive in your classroom.
    All Best,
    Erin

  20. Brian
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Dear Me in June–

    Two invaluable pieces of advice for the summer that’s stretching out before you…

    1. Join Teachers Write! It will be just the inspiration you need to commit words to virtual paper. Professional writers will challenge you with their craft and creativity and amaze you with their generous and thoughtful feedback. Countless others, teachers and writers alike, will take time to offer encouragement or inspire you with readerly questions. You will be surprised by the online connections you will make, simultaneously tenuous and lasting.

    2. When you work around your t-shirt to apply sunscreen and then change outfits to a knit short-sleeve shirt, remember to add more sunscreen to the now-exposed V below your neck.

    –Me in August

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