Writing Unapologetically

Writing workshop brings a plethora of potential problems to the classroom.

What do you do when a student won’t write?

What do you do when a student writes something inappropriate?

What do you do when a student writes something like this:


These excerpts are from real students in a real classroom. Yes, this type of writing really happens.

When I read these excerpts, three words come to my mind.

  1. Rough
  2. Tough
  3. Heart-Breaking

These students have not had easy lives.

But something about these pieces of writing intrigues me.

What causes me to want to read more about these stories?

Christy Rush-Levine blogs about her own classroom experience when a student wrote “I hate this class” in his writer’s notebook.

When she read those four words, she didn’t send him to the principal’s office. She didn’t chastise him in front of the class. She didn’t give him “a F.”

Instead, she had to celebrate.

So what did he do that was celebration-worthy?

He wrote unapologetically.

Writers write to make sense of their lives and the writer’s notebook is the place to write without apologizing to anyone.

That is the same reason why “Thugging Hard” and “Hardest Thing” are so appealing.

Those students wrote unapologetically.

My childhood was not rough, tough, or heart-breaking. I had the privilege of having a loving home, a mom, a dad, a brother, and a cat.

But maybe Thugging Hard and Hardest Thing had a privilege too.

They have some serious experiences.

They have stories.

And I want to know more.