Author Deb Lund
Twenty five years ago, with a master’s project on teaching writing just completed, I began workshops for teachers—free to my peers at the schools where I worked—and I’ve continued teaching teachers (and writers of all ages) ever since then. But neither writing nor teaching it is easy.
Teaching writing was and still is my passion. I loved the challenge presented by those beginning-of-year comments from parents that went something like, “My son is a reluctant writer.” I have yet to meet a student I couldn’t inspire to write. But I’ve also never struggled over any teaching subject as much as I did with teaching writing. If you want to get kids writing (and want them to want to write), it’s hard work. For me, it was the best and most difficult part of my teaching day.
Writing is an activity that makes us all aware of our shortcomings. You never feel like you reach a point of mastery, because there’s always more to learn and do. For me, the same goes for teaching writing, even though there isn’t anything I’ve had more success with from a purely objective standpoint. With each new issue that would come up, I’d try to find a solution. I read, studied, took risks, failed, regrouped, tried and tried again, incorporating what worked and tweaking or tossing what didn’t. I discovered that using the students’ own writing as a teaching tool was far more effective than always following the curriculum. And they scored better on standardized tests!
I’m no longer in the classroom on a daily basis, so it’s important to me to support what goes on in writing classrooms. When I do school author visits, my unspoken agenda is to get students excited about writing and to help them overcome their insecurities and perfectionism. When presenting at schools, I always offer a free lunch-time or after-school Q&A time for teachers where we address specific writing workshop concerns.
The comments I hear after school visits show me that even one visit can make a big impact, but the best chance I have in helping to create life-long writers is when I teach writing residencies. One or two-week residencies (or individual days spaced out through-out the school year) allows me to model the writing process and my particular methods of teaching writing. I especially enjoy teaming with the classroom teacher and discussing lessons before and after my visits. And thanks to technology, some of those follow-up visits can easily be accomplished virtually.
I’ve coached many teachers individually, and while they let me know how much they appreciate having a silent partner in their writing teaching, it’s always a gift to me, and I learn right along with them. The collaboration and synergy that happens energizes both of us.
My continuing education course, Real Writing with Real Results, has helped many teachers feel more confident in leading writing workshops and in exploring their own writing. Writing is hard. It can be very scary. And thanks to my amazingly tough inner critic, I’ve had to do a lot of work to get past those feelings (and believe me, it’s an ongoing process). I don’t want others to struggle as much as I have over teaching writing, so I’m glad for the opportunities I have to share what I’ve learned with other teachers and their students.
If you’ve played around on my website, you’ve seen the materials I have there for teachers. Downloadable activities and information are added periodically. My best offering to teachers, however, is my Fiction Magic cards which evolved through my years of teaching writing. You can find them here.
About Deb Lund
Author, writing teacher, and creativity coach Deb Lund is on a mission to get everyone claiming their creativity. Deb dabbles in many genres, but is most known for her bestselling picture books Dinosailors, All Aboard the Dinotrain, and Dinosoaring, illustrated by Howard Fine. You can learn more about Deb and how she supports teachers at www.deblund.com.
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