The Triangle of Writing Success

Feb 06, 2023 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Regardless of the educational environment students are in, whether it be a hybrid school, a charter school, or a five-day-a-week school, students learn best when they have unified support. This support primarily comes from three different places: the educator, the parents (or guardians), and the students themselves.

Depending upon how the educational framework is structured, the responsibilities of the educator and the parents can differ. For students learning at a hybrid school, the teacher serves as the primary instructor, and the parents assist by supporting their students in the home, helping their students with homework, answering questions, and possessing a basic understanding of the curriculum being taught to their children at school.

Charter schools vary in structure. In some settings students working with a charter school have their parents serve as the primary teachers while the school educator supports the family by offering curriculum suggestions, verifying that the families are following state educational laws, and serving as a point of contact to answer questions. In other situations, however, the charter school appears to follow a more traditional setting with the students attending a brick-and-mortar school four to five days of the week, where they are instructed by a teacher.

Both the parents and teacher provide meaningful support to their students by working together to foster the students’ growth and eventual independence. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s use an image to help illustrate the relationship:
a triangle.

The strongest triangles are those that represent a measure of equality. When students are younger, this may look somewhat like an isosceles triangle, which has two equal sides: 

The two tall, equal sides represent the educator and the parents. The smaller base of the triangle represents the students, who while young are not yet mature enough to contribute equally to their learning. Because the educator and parents are equally invested in the students’ education, the students are able to enjoy a healthy learning environment both in school and at home. This encourages stronger, more rapid growth in the students’ education versus if the students were to be in an unbalanced educational environment, where one party (either the parents or the educator) puts forth much more effort than the other.

As students grow and mature, however, they become a more integral part of their own education. The base of the triangle begins to grow as the students assume more personal responsibility for and engagement in their own education. Ideally, this leads to the most stable triangle: the equilateral triangle, which looks like this: 

In this environment students contribute to their own education equally alongside their educator and parents. Maximum growth is attained.

When the triangle becomes unbalanced, you will find an educational environment represented by a scalene triangle, which is pictured below. You can see that one side is carrying more of the educational load than the others. This is not an ideal learning environment for students. More often than not, the reason for the imbalance is due to parents’ uncertainties and insecurities about the best ways to support their students. 

While it looks great on paper, you may be wondering what you can do to foster more of an equilateral triangle experience versus the scalene triangle experience. Oftentimes parents are unsure how to help their students. Simply providing encouragement and resources to parents will often help stabilize the triangle. If you are a teacher or administrator, here are a few resources you can share with parents to help them feel more familiar with the Structure and Style writing approach. By the way, all of these suggestions are great to share with parents at any time of the year.

  1. Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing: After years of teaching, Andrew Pudewa realized that students’ frustrations were often caused by teaching mistakes. Have you committed one of these errors in your teaching? Overcorrecting, holding back help, unclear assignments, and over-expectation can frustrate your students and hamper your best efforts. Join Andrew Pudewa to learn how to overcome and avoid these four deadly errors of teaching writing.
  2. Structure and Style Overview: This video will help your students’ parents gain a better understanding of the Structure and Style writing method. This two-hour presentation will answer the questions your parents may be asking: “Why are you teaching with the IEW method? Who developed these materials? What do I need to know to help you teach my child?”
  3. Arts of Language Podcast: With a new episode produced every week, there is plenty of content to listen to that provides support for teachers and parents alike. Topics explored include learning disabilities, motivation, grammar, memorization, and more. Episode 317, which focuses on managing burnout, is one that might be particularly timely.
  4. IEW’s Blog: This little corner of IEW provides meaningful content multiple times a week, covering a broad range of English language arts topics. An easy way to add support in your school newsletters would be to share links to some of our blog articles. Here are a few suggestions of pieces your families may find helpful:

a. “Crushing Comparison” offers a gentle reminder to teachers and parents alike to avoid comparing one student to another. Each is on his own journey.

b. “Editing Made Easy” is a great post for your parents to read. It provides some helpful links to tools that will support them as they serve as their students’ editors.

c. “What about Comprehension?” provides some guidance on ways that parents and teachers can help grow their students’ comprehension skills through literature.

5. IEW Forums: Hybrid school instructors and administrators, co-op teachers, and tutors will find support and fellowship in this forum . Ask questions, offer guidance, and build relationships within this community. If you are a teacher or administrator of a five-day-a-week school, this forum is designed especially for your unique needs and is a great point of connection and support.


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