This is my second year taking part in the Slice of Life challenge. Last year, I was blown away by the community that I haphazardly found myself a part of. I felt as if I had made friends with people from around the world. I had been able to get to know strangers through their writing. This year, I reunited with many of these virtual friends and formed new bonds.
This year, it is the community that still keeps me going. However ,this year, the community felt different. That is mostly because I know many of the participants in my real life. Within our district, there were two of us that took on this challenge last year. Now, there are eight adults participating. We also opened this challenge up to our fifth grade students for the first time and had several students take part, a few writing every day during the month of March.
So as I read Slices this year and read comments, I wasn’t just getting to know strangers, but I was getting to know my real life friends and colleagues in a new way.
Last summer, my friend Dawn, invited a group of us into her home for a summer gathering. We had all read Ralph Fletcher’s latest book, Joy Write. Dawn, the researcher that she is, posed the question, “What happens when a group of teachers reads Joy Write.”
I believe that some of the growth we saw in people taking on this challenge had to do with the very idea behind Ralph’s book, the contents of Chapter 11: The Big Picture, which simply says, “A central goal of school should be to engender a love of writing and reading.” That is it. The whole chapter. The big picture. By opening ourselves up to writing, all of us, we not only push ourselves to grow and do the work that we ask of our students each and every day, but we can teach in an honest and authentic way.
This year, the Slice of Life challenge not only brought me joy, but it brought joy to my immediate community. I watched as my friends blossomed as they experienced the connection and support that has been built here. I saw kids take on writing in their own time- with some already really jam packed schedules!
I know that this joy won’t settle as a new month begins and the challenge becomes a memory. It will keep spreading-To the students and to other adults. We are working towards that big picture. I’m excited to see where we go from here.
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this amazing community and all of the behind the scenes work you do to keep us inspired. To my fellow Slicers, hooray for reaching the finish line. I’m grateful for all that I gain from each of you, through your writing and your support. See you on Tuesdays!