“Miss Smith I’m so excited, I can feel it in my toes.” It’s not everyday an eighth grader admits to that level of engagement in their language arts classroom, but today was not an average day. Today my students had the privilege of writing with my neighbor, Evan. Evan is a talented writer and is featured biweekly in the local paper. He started working with my students in the fall via video and has been our class hero ever since.
Today was their first face to face meeting; excited doesn’t even begin to describe the kids or Evan and the buildup to this moment. For the minilesson the kids and I helped to edit some writing that Evan had done “live” for them in the moment. They saw first hand that Evan breaks grammar rules purposely and that he doesn’t always listen to his editor. Evan stressed to the kids that as long as he understands the rule and knows why he’s breaking it, it’s ok to break rules every now and then. My kids giggled at this because they know I’m his editor and that I struggle with some of these broken rules.
Then came the best part of our day: writing conferences. I was nervous to handover the reigns of my conferences to Evan for the day. After all he may be a writer, but he is not a teacher. I even wrote him a careful script to follow, but within seconds of his first conference I realized he wouldn’t need it. His eyes lit up as kids read their writing to him, he told them what he loved specifically and then followed through with gentle tips of how to grow as a writer that had worked for him. My student’s were glowing at the end of their conferences; many even ran over insistent that I hear what Evan had said about their writing. Oh, the joy that filled my teacher heart as I realized the importance of this authentic writing experience.
Evan is not a teacher but maybe that’s the best part of the story?