Friday, January 14, 2022

Ambitious versus Practical in the teaching world by: Jennifer Mitchell

 As a teacher when a new year rolls around I feel like I always have great ambition to try new things, make a bigger difference, and obviously change the world with my students. :)  Over time I have learned that trying new things can be exciting and engaging for kids, but at times shiny and new isn’t always better.  One of the areas that in my opinion doesn’t have to have a new and ambitious approach is writing.  This year my students seemed to struggle with the whole idea of getting their thoughts on their paper, and I realized that going back to the basics, and getting them comfortable with writing, was what I needed to do.

At times I think writing is overwhelming for kids (it can be for adults too!), and we just expect them to know how to get started and make sense of their thoughts.  For me I seemed to have more success this year when I had my students start at the basics of writing complete sentences, move to paragraphs, and then multi-paragraph writing.  We accomplished some of that by having a daily writing journal.  We had a topic, created four boxes with ideas/ pictures, and then wrote the four ideas in sentence form learning how to create a paragraph.  Once we had that mastered we moved into specific areas of writing – examples are personal narrative, opinion, persuasive and report writing.  

I wanted to be ambitious and move at a faster pace with my students, and their writing, but being practical and slowing down and building on a solid foundation was the way to have more success.  I feel like with the daily practice and feedback, my students have gained confidence in their writing ability and are more willing to engage in the writing process.

Jennifer Mitchell-- teacher in the Kansas City area


  1. Reviewing those basics seems really important after so much lost learning in the virtual world. Thanks for this reality check.

  2. This is incredible. Breaking a project down into small manageable chunks (a sentence) is key!