Writing Teachers: It’s Time to Pass the Baton!

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes (440 words)

Primary Audience: K-8 classroom teachers, administrators, and coaches

Spring is the time of the school year traditionally known for closure, but it’s also the perfect time to think ahead strategically. By taking a few simple steps and asking some easy questions, you can pass your knowledge about your current students on to the next teacher and prepare for a new group of incoming writers.

Why This Matters: As the school year comes to a close, you possess the most knowledge about your group of writers, including their strengths, needs, motivation, and frustrations. By sharing what you know about your writers with the next grade level, you will:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes a new teacher to get to know these writers in the fall;
  • Support long-range and short-term planning;
  • And help lay the foundation for the next community your writers will walk into when they leave your classroom.

The Details:
From formal to casual, here are three opportunities to establish these lines of communication:

  1. Vertical Teaming: The most formal approach, vertical teaming will require structured professional learning time, a faculty meeting, or a common plan time. When meeting with the grade level above (or below) you in person, reserve some time for dialogue about writing and the amazing students you will share with them. (See the next section for some conversation starters.)
  2. Go Digital: If the logistics of an in-person discussion don’t fit your schedule, do this work digitally by sharing a document, form, or simple email with next year’s teaching team.
  3. Involve the Kids: No one knows your writers better than…your writers. Ask your students to jot down a few things they want next year’s teachers to know about them as writers and pass this information along.

Talking Points:
Your questions don’t need to be fancy or detailed. Try asking (or sharing):

  • Where did students grow the most this year?
  • Where did students struggle the most this year?
  • What topics resonated with this year’s writers?
  • What tools (mentor texts, anchor charts, etc.) did students return to repeatedly?
  • What type of feedback did these students respond best to?
  • What is the most important thing for next year’s teacher to know about this year’s writers?

A Word of Caution: It’s easy to let this dialogue slip into a focus on individual students, but the purpose of the baton pass is to share trends you’ve noticed about your entire class of writers to keep the momentum going. Save information about individual students for a private conversation at a different time and place.

The Bottom Line: The time and effort you have put into growing your writers this year has undoubtedly impacted them tremendously. Sharing big trends and key information will keep this energy moving forward as you pass the baton to next year’s writing teachers!

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