Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Students were Teachers Today, and I Had Writer's Block

We did a quote quickwrite in one of my classes today. The quote, from the Roman philosopher Seneca (although my first thought, after locating the quote on a Google search on a focus area, was, "Hey, that's the last line of the song, 'Closing Time!'"), was:

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

To me, it seemed incredibly deep and brimming with directions to go in. I was really looking forward to writing about it, analyzing it with my students, having a great discussion. I wrote the quote on large paper and read it aloud twice. I then started timing two minutes (that's what our quickwrite discussions are--basically, the kids and I respond in writing silently and individually to a given quote for two minutes then talk about it in a whole-group discussion and see where things end up) and realized almost immediately that I couldn't think of a darn thing to write.

Total block, and on a quote that I had chosen. What a dolt! So basically I just listed questions on my quickwrite sheet and kept a much closer eye on the clock than I usually do. Talk about being able to relate ... WOW!

The best part, of course, is that many of my students wrote amazing responses and contributed to a valuable discussion. I don't think it was a wasted quote or a pointless effort ... it just surprised me to be blocked so suddenly and completely.

It was a true privilege to watch my students surpass my own ability today : )