Over the course of the year the Parker Middle School’s Instructional Leadership Team or “ILT” has been leading a push for students (and teachers!) to create for “an audience greater than one.” To culminate the year’s efforts our faculty participated in an open house with over a dozen teachers welcoming their fellow educators into their rooms to share and explain their own students’ efforts to create public products.
During a brief presentation before the open house began a few ILT members shared some feedback from students regarding their own thoughts on producing for an audience greater than one. Students noted that an audience greater than one, “forced us to write better” knowing it would be seen by more people than just their teachers. Others expressed more pride in their work and the joy of receiving feedback from family and peers. Angela Connor and Margaret Moulton wrote an excellent piece extolling the virtues of student writing from an educator’s perspective for an audience greater than one in a September, 2000 article of “The English Journal.”
The presenters also shared cool feedback where students expressed some resentment to the charge, suggesting writing for an audience greater than one, “makes me write what I think my peers want to read and not what I really think.” This led to a dialogue I had later with an educator who didn’t see this as a negative but instead a positive. “Good,” he said, “They should be thinking about that, because when we create work for a larger audience we have to be thoughtful of how they will perceive our thoughts.”
I couldn’t have agreed with him more. For a student to recognize that not all their writing and thinking should be made public is an important lesson in itself. There have been times when I’ve failed to remember this simple lessons myself (see “Tear Down the Walls,” a blog post in which I sounded off my frustrations surrounding my school’s struggles with wireless restrictions and connections. At the time of publication I failed to consider how some hard-working IT friends and educators might react to the post, leading to a future post titled, “Frustrations Revisited.”) My hope is that our students can learn this lesson (much as the student who produced the cool feedback did) and recognize that not everything we do/say/think is meant to be shared in the public universe. Furthermore, we should work to out-do ourselves by pointing students toward the option to write freely for themselves in a private space such as a journal in an effort to help them further practice expressing themselves in written word while exploring their inner feelings and thoughts.