This I Believe

Beth - Ramona, California
Entered on May 14, 2007

When you are teaching writing, you are teaching thinking.

This I believe.

As A teacher, I value students who are good thinkers. You know who they are…Matt, Kate, Darcy, Juan, Alison, Michael, Max, and Maria. As a parent, I want my children to learn how to think. Think about what? Well, math, science, history, art, literature, world politics, foreign language, and technology. I want my children and my students not only to know stuff, but to question, analyze, compare, and criticize.

Writing well contributes to critical and creative thinking. Writing well is a process. To write is to organize, to persuade, to communicate, to connect, to apply, to synthesize, to create, to process, to sequence, to reflect, to discover and to experiment. Writing is risk taking. What I say isn’t always what I mean. Sometimes I can’t get the right words out of my mouth. But I can write it down. Through writing, I discover what I know, and more importantly, what I don’t know. Writing helps me and my students focus.

Teaching thinking, like teaching writing, is not straightforward. It is difficult, time consuming, but vital. I am a chemistry teacher and I write with my students. Together we write in journals, in lab reports, and for homework. Together, we write on paper, on computers and sometimes on the sidewalk with chalk. How else will I know what my students understand about the nature of the molecular bond? Or if they can connect bond strength to bond length to bond energy? Or if they realize that when they double a cookie recipe they are doing stoichiometry? How else will I know that they are passionate about history or dirt bikes or Disneyland?

Through writing, students show me what they are thinking. Through reading their writing, I witness the transformation of learning and the development of their intellect. I am constantly thrilled by the choice of words, train of thought, and organization strategies that become apparent through the act of writing. I strive to be humble as I guide my students, their thinking and their writing, while allowing their voices to continue true. This is my most important job. It is my calling. Every teacher in every subject should teach writing. There is so much to write about.

A school full of writers is a school full of thinkers. A school full of thinkers is a success! This I believe.