I Need to Write

Click to visit Donalyn's Blog

My Mount Rushmore of teachers includes lots of different wonderful educators that have shaped me as a professional.  Two of these teachers are “The Book Whisperer” Donalyn Miller and “The Swiss Army Knife of Children’s Literature” Kate Messner. I had the privilege of sitting with them over coffee and tea, Friday evening at NCTE. As I sat in awe, and as I  listened to my heroes, I kept thinking to myself,  please don’t ask me to join this conversation. I kind of felt like that kid sitting in class praying that his teacher won’t call on him.

Click to visit Kate's Website

Well, I did get called on. Kate turned towards me, looked me in the eyes, and said in the universe’s sweetest voice, “Colby, what are you writing?”(I still can’t believe Kate and Donlayn know my name).  I froze.  My writing includes sporadic blog posts and writing with/alongside my fourth graders.  I know that Kate wasn’t trying to call me out, but I felt guilty.  I need to write more.  My writing needs to be more authentic and a lot more consistent.

I feel that a great deal of my successes as a teacher of reading, are because of my reading life. I read a ton, and I read a variety of things.  These great habits that I live by as a reader need to be transferred to my life as a writer.  Kate’s simple question is reshaping my life. I am committing to writing more. Nowhere in me, is there a desire to publish a book, but I do feel that writing more will help me to become a better teacher.

Kate Messner’s 5 word question has pretty much occupied my every thought for the last few days.  After losing a lot of sleep, I have decided to do something about it. Starting after Thanksgiving I will be posting a minimum of three blog posts a week. I will try to run a routine schedule on my blog to help myself stay consistent and focused.

My New Blog Schedule

Sunday: Inspirations/What we’re doing

Two Sunday’s a month I will post on a person that inspires me. This will be a mushy post, but hopefully it will help me reflect upon and honor the people that help me be the man and teacher that I am today.  This post will also allow me to go back dig deeper into the work of that person.  Since I will be posting on this topic every two weeks, I will be able to spend the first week researching and digging deeper, the second week I will write the post. Very excited about trying this.

The other two Sunday’s of the month I will post something about what we a doing in room 23.  I have no idea how this post is going to go, but I promise, it’ll be fun (at least to me).

Monday: Reading Life

This will be a simple post highlighting my reading life.  It will probably include what I read in the previous week and what I plan on reading the following week. The more I think about it, the more I think this post should at times also include my writing life.

Wednesday: Book Talk

I think that it is important that I continue to write about books that I love.  Every Wednesday, I will be posting a book talk. I am really looking forward to being more consistent in discussing what I’m reading.

I would like to be a great writing teacher, and I don’t know how to do that if I’m not a writer myself. It’s time to “man up” and get to writing. Wish me luck.

23 thoughts on “I Need to Write

  1. Colby-
    We’ve already talked about this, but I left NCTE with the same desire/compulsion to write. I’m dipping my toe into the waters of blogging with many of the same topics or types of posts. Good luck! Let’s keep each other accountable.


  2. Colby, I love the idea of a topic schedule. I think it’s important to think out load, but hadn’t even thought about a schedule like this. Mind if I borrow or adapt the idea?

    Wonderful to meet you at NCTE. Wish we’d had more time to talk.


  3. Your intro was just too inviting! Love the idea of your “Mt. Rushmore” of teachers. I’ll have to think about that one! And then your description of how you didn’t want to be dragged into the conversation! I could totally see where you were coming from!!

    I was wondering what 5 word question she asked you. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to read up! And now that you have put it in writing . . . it’s official. Your followers will be waiting. 🙂

    Sounds like you have a great plan! I’d also like to invite you over to the Tuesday Slice of Life at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/. Every Tuesday bloggers write a “slice of life.” And then in March, we challenge ourselves to write every day! It’s been an amazing experience for me to understand the pressures and insecurities of being a writer, but living and struggling through the process has only helped me become a better teacher of writing. Plus it’s a bonus to get feedback and comments (who doesn’t like comments????) — another community of teachers learning with each other. Just awesome!


  4. Wow Mr. Sharp! I admire your goals and wish you the best of luck! Your posts and tweets have been an inspiration to me as an educator. You also motivate me to take special care of my literate life. Plan on writing and reading more myself!


  5. I love that you have a plan for your blog. I think it makes it easier once you have a clear way of doing things – not that it can’t totally change. 🙂 I have journaled since I was l little kid and then I started a writer’s notebook when I saw Ralph Fletcher a couple of years ago. My students and I all designed our own writer’s notebook. It helps me notice more things during the day because I have a specific place to write it down. I also made myself a notebook for blog ideas. I jot down notes of posts I want to write as they occur to me so I can go back and write the whole post later. Having the notebooks has helped me plan what I write.

    It’s great that you are so reflective. I think being reflective and being able to constructively analyze what we are doing and make changes is an integral part of effective teaching! Bravo!


  6. Dear Colby,
    Thanks for sharing how those 5 simple words resonated with you. It sounds like you were at the right session at the right time. Isn’t it amazing how that happens sometimes?
    I hope you will share about your NCTE sessions too!
    Loved your opening sentence! I was so jealous that you were having coffee with those two dynamos!
    Julie Hembree


  7. I appreciate your commitment to blog more often. As a Language Arts teacher and volleyball coach, I have been struggling to make time to blog. Planning a posting strategy is a great idea and I think that is something that I will adopt. I’m looking forward to reading more and finding what great books you are reading.


  8. I think it is awesome that you are willing to do the things you are asking of your students. That keeps you learning yourself and helps you walk a bit in their shoes. I look forward to seeing your journey!


  9. I love your plan and topic schedule. I can’t wait to read all your upcoming blog posts!

    Last year, I was teaching a lesson on great openings, and I had brought many mentor texts to the class to share with the kids. But then, one of the kids asked me to read a great opening from something *I* had written. I realized that I had earn their respect as a reader but not as a writer. Since then I’ve been writing a daily blog and I keep a writer’s notebook on me at all times. Everyonce in a while, I share with them something from my own writer’s notebook and ask for their input. They love to give me “advice” 🙂


  10. After seeing your response, I just had to clarify so you don’t think I’m a complete goof. I recalled a tweet you posted about the 5 word question she asked you, but never saw another tweet with the question. So I was wondering what the question was until I read in your post what Kate asked you. So — before your blog post, I was wondering . . . that’s why I said I was wondering in my comment.

    Okay. After rereading my explanation, I sound like a goof anyways. Oh well. The trouble with words . . . happy writing!


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