Teaching Writing

I’m starting this blog for me and for my current and future students. I’m starting this blog because as a teacher of writing, I want to continue with the practice of my own writing in hopes that this will: 1. help me become a better writer, and 2. help me learn new strategies and techniques to help my students. Writing is a passion of mine that often gets ignored.

Two months ago, I began an accelerated credential program. There is so much work piled into every week, plus my student teaching assignment. Because the stress if often overwhelming, I sometimes forget to sit and reflect on everything I’m learning. Every day I learn new methods. Every day I learn about state standards and assessments that I didn’t want to include in my classrooms, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that I don’t have a say in that matter. My students will be tested and assessed and if I want them to succeed, I need to teach to these standards. This doesn’t mean I have to give up my beliefs about teaching. This really only means that I need to get creative with my lessons. Every day, I also make mistakes in the classroom. For now, I have a cooperating teacher that assists me with my lesson plans and gives me constructive feedback. As I listen to this feedback, I learn more and more about what my students need. It’s not always the stuff that I enjoy, for example, classroom management and organization.

When I decided I wanted to become a teacher, I was focused on creating an open and safe space for my students to express themselves, but I forgot about what needs to go into that foundation. As I get older, I find more peace in breaking the rules, but maybe teenagers need to learn those rules first before breaking them. I don’t know.

There is both a challenge and a reward in learning how to become an effective teacher. Some days are awesome and some days are… not so awesome. I want this to be a place where I can write about those days. I want this to be a place where I can write about methodologies I want to carry into my own classroom in the future. I want this to be a place where I can write about what kind of lessons I don’t think will benefit my students. I want this to be a place where I can practice my own writing; whether it be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or a quick release of emotions and ideas. I want to be sure I remember why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place. Writing is a form of expression that should allow for risk taking and mistake after mistake. I don’t want to be perfect and I don’t want to create an environment where my students think they need to be perfect. Practice does not make perfection, but progress. And progress allows us to look at ourselves in a different light. I want my students to believe that their ideas matter. They matter to me, and they should matter to them, and in turn, they should matter to the world.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” —Anne Lamott

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