In Section 28 of Spilling Ink, Anne Mazer encourages young writers to make writing a habit. This, as we all know, is so much easier said than done! She discusses her own writing habit and how it took her years to fully establish it.
As teachers, we have lots of classroom habits. Each day, we have time set aside to explicitly teach reading. It is a habit. We have a habit of teaching math every day. We wouldn't dream of skipping Social Studies or Science. Unfortunately, setting aside time to teach writing has not yet become a habit for the majority of us, nor has sitting down to write with our students.
We are in luck, though. It is never too late to begin a new challenge. Challenge yourself this school year to teach writing consistently and explicitly. Share with your students your feelings about writing. Be vulnerable. Learn together. Set goals for yourself and your class-- maybe even build in small rewards for yourself and your students as you reach those goals. Be accountable.
Ms. Mazer also mentions the importance of having an inviting writing space. Kids love having their own spaces-- whether we create them or not, they will find their own comfy nooks and crannies if we give them the freedom to do so. It is much more efficient, though, if we purposefully set up our classroom to be inviting for learning. Teaching With Intention, a lovely book by the wonderful Debbie Miller, has a whole chapter entitled "Environment, Environment, Environment." She says, "I believe that classroom environments are most effective when they are literate and purposeful, organized and accessible, and, most of all, authentic." If we want students to be excited and engaged in the learning process, we have to set up our classrooms accordingly. Check out Miller's book for all the juicy details.
Bottom line: Writing is hard work. Our students are going to mirror our attitude towards it. We need to be honest with them and work diligently to create a writing habit for ourselves and for them.