I'm sitting here staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what to write and getting stuck because I'm not sure what to write, and all I can think about is that my students must feel the same way sometimes as they're sitting in class having to start writing. Today alone, I heard several times, "I don't know what to write." No matter how much modeling, instructing, and scaffolding I do, sometimes there will be kids who are still just stuck (like I am right now).
But then something encouraging happened in my classroom today. As I walked around and checked in with students on their first drafts, many of them commented that what they had wasn't good. Even as I reminded them that our first drafts don't have to be great because we get to revise them to make them better, they didn't seem convinced. That was the discouraging part. But then I had some conversations. I made sure those short conversations were focused on encouraging the student that his/her ideas were a good starting point to revise into even better or that the ideas they had were already good. And I saw faces change; I saw attitudes become more positive; I saw students more willing to work; I witnessed students being more confident in their own writing. All from just a few encouraging words.