Model & Celebrate the Writing Struggle
Growth mindset.  Perseverance.  Stamina.  #Wecandohardthings

How do we encourage writers, especially young writers, to persist, push-on, wait, reflect, and preserve when they come up against writing roadblocks?

1)    Model, model, model.  As you’re thinking aloud, writing in front of your students, struggle.  Get stuck.  Show them this is a natural part of writing (like daily).  Don’t plan ahead too much for your modeled writing so the struggle comes up naturally.  Turn to students and ask for help.  “We’re all writers and we all have something to offer.  I’m stuck (explain…)  Who has an idea I might use here?” You may be surprised by what students come up with (I have been many, many times). 

2)    Celebrate student-struggle.  “You’re stuck? Of course you are, writer!  It happens to all of us! Can we share your work under the document camera and invite help?  Can you meet with a small group to get response and assistance? Can we trouble-shoot for strategies by looking at past pieces of modeled writing?”  Whatever the path, hold a public conference with this student at the end of writing time that day.  If the student is willing, have him share what he did to overcome the difficulty.  Celebrate BIG TIME.  We can all learn from one another, especially when we struggle and we’re still able to write right through it (even if that doesn't happen immediately).

2b) As you peruse student writing, look for examples of revision, reworking, rethinking, reflection, problem solving.  Again, use the document camera to highlight examples and share strategies.  Our own students are the most powerful mentors for each other.

On that note, here’s a peek at Stella thinking critically about her conclusion in Stella Writes An Opinion.  She’s stuck.  Yes, in the end, she preservers very nicely.  What strategies does she use to get there?  


  1. The reminder to not pre-plan model writing is important. Often I see teachers write everything out before hand rather than model the process, which absolutely includes getting stuck! Thanks for highlighting this because we can't teach how to get unstuck without showing the getting stuck part first.

    1. Thanks for your relpy, Kristi! Yep, many teachers are intimidated by modeling writing in front of students. But, it's one of the most effective strategies we have to help writers! Reassurance that students benefit from watching us make mistakes and get stuck helps. Growth mindset...growth mindset. Get up there, write and grow right alongside students!

  2. It's easier to help kids when they're stuck when we're writers ourselves. We've dug ourselves out of similar holes before. Kids know that and appreciate it when we share their struggles, right?

    Great piece, Janiel!

    1. Thanks so much, Stacey! I agree--it is much easier when teachers themselves write. That's when they truly 'get it.' Writing isn't intimidating, it's a joyful act of discovery with lots of mistake making and mucking around as we go. And, yes, students do appreciate seeing us as 'real' writers who also struggle. Just like we're real readers and co-learners.


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