Jess Marrone and I, and a handful of other Hampstead teachers, believe students need to write every day in every class. They need to write about what interests them, and they need feedback from their teacher that is timely, specific, and encouraging, not punitive.
For years now, I’ve had incoming sixth-graders — mostly boys — tell me how much they hate to write. By the end of the year, many of them ask me, “Please, Mr. Ed, can we have just five more minutes to write, pretty please?”
I’d love it if some of my students grow up to be journalists, novelists, or poets. But I’d be just as satisfied to learn that an accountant gained the confidence to pen a pithy letter-to-the-editor, or a chemist emailed their representative in Washington about an issue they truly care about.
Writing well is hard work, but with practice and encouragement it can be a joy. No one should ever be afraid to commit his or her thoughts to paper.
John Edmondson is a teacher in Hampstead.