Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slice of Life, March 30th-- "Dear Students..."

Dear Slicing Pod 2 Students,

Whether you decided to go for the 16 or 31 day Slice of Life goal, this letter will apply to you. I decided that one of my last posts will be directed towards you and to the things I've observed over the last month. It's long, but I hope you'll read it all. It's from my heart.

First, I know you had no idea what you were getting into when you signed on to this little adventure at the end of February. I know you didn't know, because I didn't know either. I had no idea what I was having us do. I had just found out about the challenge, and it sounded fun! My classes would LOVE to do this, I thought. I was right. You responded with enthusiasm that fueled my own excitement.

March 1st came and off we went! We even had some adults coming along with us; Dr. Zornes, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. O., Mrs. Booher, and Mrs. Hulstine all signed up to blog for the whole month. It was so much fun to feel like we had our own writing community all around us. Guest bloggers spiced things up, too!

We got off to a strong start.

Then, the first week passed, and the second week was gone. Slice of Life got hard. Really hard. Writer's block became a constant companion. A few students gave up, and I don't blame them. Between snow days, weekends, and Spring Break, we didn't even have each other to bounce ideas off of most days. Some days--a lot of days, maybe-- we wrote because we had to write. This wasn't exactly fun, but the rewards in the future made it worth it, we thought.

The third week was my hardest--your hardest, too, I think. Spring Break gave lots of new "out of the norm" ideas, but the encouragement from each other and the newness of the journey were just plain gone. Some days I thought really hard about giving in to the relaxation and laziness that comes with Spring Break, but it was you (and the chance at prizes from the teacher blog) that kept me writing and commenting. I felt like I was a blogging "fake." I just wasn't enjoying the discipline it took to keep up. I dreaded the moment that I had to stop exploring Florida and write. I wanted to be done. I felt like a terrible person. Can you relate?

It was a little easier the last week, because we were at school again. Something about school just makes you feel like writing is expected. Sort of. It was still a stretch to come up with things to write. While I was trying to motivate you, I was trying to motivate myself. I coined the phrase, "The Slice of Life ate my life." I dreamed of the day my computer could spend the night at school instead of following me home every night. I wish I could say that I loved every moment, but some days I just wanted to go to bed early, not post. To lie about that would make me sound like the "real writer" in the group, when all of you, I'm sure, had moments like me, and you're just as much "writers" as I am.

Then...all of a sudden, it's almost over.

One more post after this one for me. How is that possible? I made it?

I've thought a lot over the last few days about whether this is something I will do next year. Was it worth it for my kids, for me? I needed to get to the bottom of my feelings on the subject. I like to be honest, and this is how I really felt.

But after a lot of thought, I've come to a decision. I'm in. Next year, I will do it and so will some of my brave students who will follow in your footsteps.

Here's why:

1. When I look back over my 30 days of posts, even the ones that were stretches at the time, they make me proud. I teach writing, but I've never published a blog like this before, full of my own ideas. Even when I thought I was terrible, I was okay. I didn't have to be full of inspiration to write a good post. Maybe, for the first time, I realized that I don't have to be perfect to be a writer. It's a nice feeling.

2. I persevered, and so did you. We're all lying if we say each post was a joy to write. We wanted to give up at some point, all of us, but we didn't. It's amazing what we did through sheer willpower.

3. Not only did I notice what I wrote, I've noticed what you wrote. You are good. Really good. You may have thought, like me, a few days, that what you wrote was hardly worth reading, but you were wrong. Look again, please, at all your posts...the poems, the narratives, the opinions you crafted. Not just the ones you published, but the ones you kept hidden in your journals for only your eyes. Notice that your words are powerful, beautiful, amazing. Notice that you sound like a real writer. Notice that you ARE a real writer.

4. The SOL community we formed was priceless. I feel like we've run a race together and now we're at the finish line about to cross-- together. I am so glad that I know more about you through your writing and that we've completed the challenge with each other. Good and bad, we finished, and that's what matters.

So, students, a word of advice from your Comm Arts teacher: Don't be too quick to label this little adventure as "not worth it" or "not a big deal."

It IS a big deal.

You finished. You wrote. You grew. You were disciplined enough to do what many adults would have given up on weeks ago (or never had the courage to start to begin with).

As you prepare to move to Jr. High, remember this lesson. If you can do Slice of Life, you can do a lot of things you think you can't do. It just takes a made-up mind and dedication. It takes doing what you don't want to do when it's easy to give up. People say it a lot, but it's true. You can do anything you set your mind to do. You've proven that to many adults lately, and more importantly, I hope,  to yourself.

Do me a favor. Save your writing. You might not feel like it now, but those entries, those slices of your 6th grade life in March 2014 will be worth more than gold to you one day. Trust me on this.

The good news? It's almost time to celebrate our accomplishments. We have slices of pizza and cake and t-shirts and parties coming, but those won't be the biggest moments of joy you experience. I hope that moment comes to you tomorrow, when you pen your last entry.

I hope you savor the moment of accomplishment and pride wrapped up together.

You deserve to enjoy it. Congratulations!

                                                                                                          Your proud teacher,
                                                                                                                Miss Collins


  1. What a wonderful encouraging and congratulating post! I love that you gave this opportunity to your students.

  2. Awesome job 6th graders! Your teacher is right--keep your writing from this month. What you accomplished is so special. Enjoy your pizza slices and t-shirts, but celebrate your writing!

  3. Congratulations sixth graders! You have a lot to be proud of this month. What an accomplishment this is for you.

  4. Congratulations 6th graders--and their teacher! You all made it and discovered how powerful your words can be. And yes, I know I felt at times that it would be easier to give up and not write some days, but I'm glad I did.

  5. I'm glad we did slice of life! Even though I fell behind a little! I still enjoyed it!

  6. Maybe I'm just tired, but this letter made me cry! Your writing, their writing, my writing, it was all so emotionally charged. This was an amazing opportunity, and I'm so grateful to have been a part of it. Thank you.