One of my favorite parts about teaching the Masterclass each year is hearing from alumni about how the course has transformed their writing instruction. So far, we have had over 7000 teachers take the course, and the stories our teacher friends share make me laugh, cry, and want to stand up and dance.
This week I thought it would be fun to share some of their stories with you. So, grab a cool drink, sit back, relax, and see what our alumni have to say about the Masterclass.
What was writing workshop like in your classroom before you took the Masterclass?
- I was the weekend warrior. On Sundays, I’d spend hours in the classroom getting ready for the week. When it came to teaching writing, I felt like the blind leading the blind. I didn’t know what to teach, so I did a lot of craftivities. . . Things like “Where would a leprechaun hide gold in your house? Give me three reasons why that’s the best place.” I had prompts for every holiday. But I wasn’t giving them skills to become better writers. Instead, I was doing all the work. I’d fix their mistakes and they’d make a final copy and we’d move on to the next holiday prompt . . . Pre- and post-assessments were a plateau. My students weren’t showing any growth. – BJ, 3rd grade teacher
- It was like whack a mole! I’d run from this kid to that kid to that one . . . . I was touching base with all of them and trying to conference. But by the time I was done with one, another one had gotten way off track . . . [It was] forty minutes of sheer panic, running around the room, and never getting to everyone. I thought, “What is wrong with me? It’s been fifteen years. Why do I not have this figured out?” – Lisa 1st and 2nd grade teacher
- It wasn’t pretty. I’d say, “Get out your spiral notebooks and write about what happened over the weekend.” And they were like, “I don’t remember anything from over the weekend.” It was just prompts, prompts, prompts, all the time . . . Our curriculum didn’t make sense to me. It was confusing and not teacher friendly. – Karen, 3rd grade teacher
- After twenty minutes of writing, they would turn in one sentence, or nothing at all. – Gloria, 4th grade teacher
Why did you decide to enroll in the course?
- I’m all about trying to make kids feel confident. And [writing] was the area that their little faces would droop. Even though I’d say, “Oooh you’re awesome!” they just didn’t feel it internally. I had been searching . . . every year for something [to help my students become better writers] and I finally feel like this is going to reach my kids . . . . [When I bought the course] I binge-watched all of it! And I was like, “Oh yes! Yes! That’s how I can do this!” – Lisa 1st and 2nd grade teacher
- I decided I needed to do something about teaching writing. I wanted to grow in this area. It was so worth it. Now I am excited [to teach writing]. – Maria, 4th grade teacher
- There was a parent that went to the principal and mentioned she [saw her son’s] writing over the weekend, and she wasn’t thrilled with what she saw. His writing really didn’t grow . . . . The principal was really nice, really supportive. But it really hurt as a teacher to hear that. It was an eye-opener for me. I was like, wow, I am not doing my part. And I didn’t know how to do it better. I am not a good writing teacher . . . I need to find something [to help me] and that’s when I found [Jamie]. – Karen, 3rd grade teacher
- I’ve always been a good writer myself, but I had no idea how to help THEM become good writers. – Anne 3rd and 4rd grade teacher
- I thought it made me a bad teacher to not know how to teach writing. – Kristen, 4th grade teacher
I think it is so cool that teachers joined for so many different reasons. The Masterclass is helpful for both teachers who love to write and those who hate it.
What was your “Aha!” moment or biggest takeaway from the course?
- One of my biggest frustrations was having everyone at a different point in writing workshop. Jamie’s idea of having a masterpiece where everyone is on the same point in their story is an answer to prayer. . . ” – Julie, 2nd grade teacher
- I loved the fact that I can watch it any time. It’s for life. I can rewatch it; I can go back. And I can go on Facebook and talk to people if I have questions. I never had that at a conference. You can’t do that at a conference. That’s the beauty of this. – Karen, 3rd grade teacher
- The small group conferences! We teach guided reading, we teach guided math, but it never occurred to me to do it in writing . . . . Keeping them all in the same place and having targeted groups is going to make it so much easier to get to know the writers. – Lisa, 1st and 2nd grade teacher
- [When] Jamie said get rid of the prompts and just start teaching writing. And then when she said don’t use pencils—allow them to choose their [writing] utensils . . . it was something so simple, but it was such a game-changer. It changed the way I thought about writing, and my kids thought about writing. The kids love writing in my classroom now! – Darcy, 4th grade teacher
- Students love choice! – Sharon, 3rd grade teacher
How has what you learned in the Masterclass helped your reluctant writers?
- “I had one little guy who really struggled. It was hard to get him to write anything. He liked that [the Not So Wimpy Writing process] wasn’t so daunting. I could say, “All you’re working on today is topic sentences. All you need to do today is come up with two sizzling starters.” He’d be like, “That’s all?” Then he would start to make lists and draw pictures with captions because he was relieved all he had to do was come up with one or two sentences. – Tracey, 2nd grade teacher
- There was a little boy who would groan when I said we’re doing writing. He’d say, “I really hate writing.” And I’d say, “No, no, no you don’t. It’s going to be great.” But as soon as we started the [Not So Wimpy Writing] process and started decorating our notebooks he got into it. After a couple of days, he was asking me, “When are we doing writing?” . . . Then others picked up on it and they couldn’t wait for writing either. It was so encouraging to see that they really like writing when you teach it the right way.” – Karen, 3rd grade teacher
- My biggest win this year is [seeing] a student who used every avoidance technique he could think of get so excited to write an informational report on muscle cars. I didn’t have to prompt him to read and take notes and write his draft. – Kathy, 4th grade teacher
- I had a student who cried when he had to write just one sentence and now writes the entire time and is sad on the days we can’t have writing. – Anne, 3rd and 4th grade teacher
Did the strategies you learned help your special education and ELL students?
- My SLD students went from writing one sentence on a pre-assessment at the beginning of the year to, by the end of the year, writing 2 paragraphs. – Darcy, 4th grade teacher
- Bite-sized lessons made all the difference for my students. – Connie, special education teacher
- I teach students with autism in a self-contained setting and used to HATE writing until I tried [Jamie’s method] and now even my kids love it. So THANK YOU! I finally have the confidence to teach writing like I do other subjects. – Stephanie, special education teacher
- My English Language Learners are able to use these mini lessons to build their skills. I can see their confidence grow. – Alyson, ELL teacher
- My students came in this year not being able to write a complete sentence! They are now writing paragraphs with dialogue and details! – Jessica, special education teacher
- I remember going on a field trip and one of my little ELL girls was sitting next to me with a notebook, so I asked her what she was doing. She said, “Oh, I’m writing all about our trip!” I was completely shocked! I just couldn’t believe that somebody would sit on a bus and write about something because I had never seen kids do that before. And she said, “Oh yeah, I like to write!” – Darcy 4th grade
What is writing workshop like now in your classroom?
- I did some data tracking throughout the year and I saw consistent growth in the kids. . . . They really started to get into it . . . they had such a good time with it. It was fun to see their confidence grow.” – Maria, 4th grade teacher
- I told my kids I was so proud of them with their writing. They actually said they were proud of themselves too! – Natalie, 3rd grade teacher
- I am so confident in teaching writing and the kids cheer when we get to write! – Michele, elementary teacher
- When I would say it’s time to stop [writing] they’d groan and say, “Can’t we go five more minutes?” – Darcy, 4th grade teacher
- This year when my kids had to do an end of year writing sample, I felt a sense of pride. – Amy, 2nd grade teacher
- I had students ask me to keep writing during inside recess when it was raining- Jennifer, special education teacher
- At the end of the year, I asked my kids what their favorite subject was and why. And hands down every one of my kids said writing. The comments said, “You taught me how to put voice into my writing.” “I know how to do word choice.” When I put writing up in Google Classroom it was the first thing my kids would do. They’d skip reading and they’d skip math and work on writing.” – Darcy 4th grade teacher
How has the Masterclass changed you?
- The masterclass helped me tremendously. I actually got observed before and after the course and the administration wanted to know what I had done! What magic wand did I wave over them? – Lynn, 2nd grade teacher
- Teaching [writing] in little, tiny pieces made it much less scary for [the students] and much less scary me. After the Masterclass, I didn’t feel like I had to be the master of everything. – Maria, 4th grade teacher
- I have not been at school on a weekend since I don’t know when. I stay late on Fridays to get [everything organized for the next week] and then I am done until Monday. – BJ, 3rd grade teacher
- Taking your masterclass helped me to get excited about teaching writing again and to not feel so overwhelmed or like I was driving without a map! Thank you! – Jennifer, elementary teacher
- The writing Masterclass lessened my stress and anxiety. – Karen, ELL teacher
What would you tell someone who is still on the fence about whether to enroll in the Masterclass?
- You would be silly if you did not do this masterclass. It has changed my life, honestly. It is fantastic. – Karen, 3rd grade
- The accessibility to [Jamie] and her staff [is amazing]. I asked a question of Jamie and she emailed me back personally. And on Facebook, people keep answering [all the questions]. You don’t find that in any other program that I have done. – Julie, 2ndgrade teacher
- What better way to start the year than with the certainty that you will be the best writing teacher. You will be able to give that energy to our scholars…Do it for you! – Kimberley, 3rd & 4th grade teacher
- Don’t hesitate. I don’t normally spend that amount of money and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. Also, you have this for a lifetime, which I love. I can go back and look at the lessons right before I teach a lesson or a unit. I have this forever. That alone is worth the money. – Julie, 2nd grade teacher
- Get off the fence! You are worth the investment. We as teachers spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to be the best that we can, because ultimately that’s what we want for the kids. There are many resources, many trainings through your school district, I have done a lot of professional development. But this one is for a lifetime, and this one is a living, breathing [course] that changes and grows. I highly recommend the investment. When you really look at it across your lifetime, what you have access to, it is a miniscule amount of money…It is, by far, one of the best professional developments I have ever experienced and I know for a fact that it is going to change my students’ lives. – Lisa 1st and 2nd grade teacher
The Not So Wimpy Writing Masterclass
There you have it. Straight from the teachers’ mouths. The Masterclass is life-changing. For teachers and students.
It gives teachers the confidence you need to teach writing effectively and it saves tons of time, anxiety, and money—because once you purchase this course you have it forever and can revisit it any time.
The tips, techniques, and strategies taught in the Masterclass make writing easy and accessible for kids. Countless teachers have told us that their students, even the most reluctant ones, go from hating writing to begging for more time to write. As if that weren’t enough, writing scores go up too.
The Masterclass only opens for registration once each year. So, if you are ready to be a Not So Wimpy writing teacher, just click the button below to sign up for the Waitlist and we will be sure to let you know when registration opens for the next Masterclass.
Hope to see you in the course!
Have a Not So Wimpy day,