• Shelley Fenton & Krista Senatore of Lit Coach

Growing Teacher-Writers with Classroom Writing Cafes (Part 3)


In our previous posts, we shared how to get started with the classroom Writing Cafe and how the Writing Cafe engages all writers in the classroom.

In this post, we will explore how teachers experienced the Writing Cafe for themselves and in turn, not only developed their own writing identity, but improved their classroom writing community.

The word had spread about how a few classrooms had experienced the Writing Cafe and were enjoying much success and engagement with student writing.

Soon more classroom teachers wanted to bring this new and engaging writing experience to their classrooms.

Over the course of just a few weeks, we noticed increased student and teacher excitement about writing. The Writing Cafes inspired teachers to reflect on their writing instruction and take ownership of new possibilities for supporting student writers.

Growing Teacher-Writers

One day, over a discussion on practices of lifelong readers and writers, a teacher made a confession. She admitted that teaching writing was difficult. “I think the reason teaching writing is difficult is because I don't write myself,” this brave teacher admitted.

Like TeachWrite, we at Lit Coach Connection have made it our mission to help teachers become writers because we also believe that the best teachers of writing are writers themselves.

We want both teachers and students to experience the joy and sense of empowerment that comes from writing.

But we know teachers are busy. We wondered, with endless commitments both in and out of school, how can we create space and time for teacher writing?

Writing Cafes provided the answer!

Creating a Shared Writing Experience

When we collaborated with teachers to plan their Writing Cafe, we invited them to take part in the writing.

Rather than confer as they do during writing workshop, we suggested they take off their teacher hats and write alongside their students. Our intention was to give teachers an experience that would lead them to identify as writers themselves, just as they were asking their students to do.

Like students, teachers moved from station to station carrying their writer’s notebook. They sat down next to their students and began creating gratitude heart maps and writing about memories sparked by songs.

Teachers and students, sitting side by side, engaged in the act of writing together. Students saw their teachers as fellow writers, going through the same process they were going through.

The classroom Writing Cafe had created a shared writing experience for teachers and students!

A Shift in Teaching Writing

Over the next few months, we noticed a shift in teachers’ feelings about teaching writing. When we asked those who hosted Writing Cafes, “Are you enjoying writing more?” they nodded their heads, smiled and unanimously declared “yes”.

When teachers experience the joy and empowerment of writing, it sparks creativity in their teaching of writing. Suddenly there is a shared experience in the room; we are all writers, we are all doing this work together.

Shelley Fenton and Krista Senatore are teacher leaders and literacy consultants in New York. They co-founded Lit Coach Connection in 2018 to provide both local and online professional development in the area of literacy. Both Shelley and Krista are avid writers and have presented at state and national literacy conferences. You can find out more about Lit Coach Connection on their website and can connect with them on Twitter.

Other Posts in the Classroom Writing Cafe Series:

Getting Started with Writing Cafes (Part 1)

Writing Cafes: Reading Fragile Writers (Part 2)

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