- Set a goal for your writing workshop. I say something like, "Our goal for today will be to explore where our stories come from and how we give them depth and rich details."
- Make it clear that this is a safe space for sharing. Especially if this is the first time you've taught a given group, point out that today is about writing and sharing--it's not a critique group--and the feedback you offer will be about the things in the story that are working. STICK TO THE POSITIVE--don't shut down beginning writers!
- Always do the writing assignments with the group. I think this shows respect for the folks who have come to learn from you and your own dedication to your craft.
- READ OUT LOUD. I think that teens are often asked to write about books but rarely shown how they can USE examples from novels to hone their own craft. I use excerpts from THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak, REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly, and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson, among other texts, to model how NAMES/WORD CHOICE, DESCRIPTION/SETTING, and LITERARY FORMS can be explored to enhance your story. (Plus, I love hearing good work read aloud and I think lots of other people do, too!)
- LISTEN. Encourage writers to share and, when they do, stay focused, take a few notes, and give clear feedback on what is working. The MOST IMPORTANT goal for a writing instructor (I think) is to send students away wanting to write MORE.
|We're all in a safe space here!|
|You're here writing--not home watching television.|
Congratulations -- you're already a success tonight!
|Ask folks to put down pencils when they're finished |
so you know when the work is done.
|Who says boys don't read--and write?!|
|If adults want to join the writing group,|
I say YES - but they have to really JOIN
the improv and sharing time, too!
|Leave time to chat, sign books, and generally hang out after the workshop.|
And make sure to continue to encourage young writers
even though your "teacher hat" is off!