Let me start by saying this story has a happy ending. But it begins in a very stressful way.
The school year began like any other. I was blessed with an amazing group of sophomores to teach this year. They are kind, funny, and hard-working students. Unfortunately, they also qualify as the most anxious group of students I’ve ever taught. Nearly every homework assignment was resulting in at least one panicked e-mail, student visit, and even an Instagram DM asking questions.
Fast forward a month into the school year to our first big writing assignment. Even though we spent several class periods going over proper MLA citations and research integration, I found myself swamped with students seeking help. At one point there was a literal line of students holding laptops which led out my door.
Exasperated, I sought the advice of my work-life partner and classroom neighbor, Sydney. Syd commiserated and felt my pain, as she had seen similar dilemmas in teaching writing with her own students. Unfortunately, like me, she had no idea how to help students other than being available almost all the time.
Annoyed, I said aloud, “I wish we had a writing center like we had in college.”
The comment stayed with me and later that night I researched ways to improve writing in schools beyond the English classroom. My research led me to discover the Minnetonka Public High School Writing Center, a nationally renowned writing center staffed and designed for high school students.
In November I was able to schedule a time to check out the center and meet with the coordinator. To be honest, I wanted to cry. The idea that there was a space designed for students to seek help with writing outside of class time seemed too good to be true. And even better, the writing help was being given by other students. This created a community-building mentorship opportunity that I hadn’t conceived of before.
I was so impressed with my visit to the Minnetonka Writing Center and became obsessed with forming a writing center at my own school. I’ve included some pictures of Minnetonka’s Writing Center below.
After my visit (ok, I’ll be honest, it was during my visit) I texted my principal begging for a meeting to pitch the Writing Center. Long story short, we met, he fell in love with the idea too, and the Writing Center was officially approved.
Which led me to the next step: choosing and training a staff. And I had absolutely no idea where to begin.
This post is the first in a three-part series about our school’s Writing Center. Please follow me for more blog posts about our Writing Center, English teaching ideas, and successful resources from my TpT store.