Introduction

I never paid attention to how I learned to write when I was growing up. I just know I had good teachers, I wrote a lot throughout school; it seemed that it was subtly drilled into my head how to write considering the amount of writing assignments I had when I was going throughout elementary – high school. It didn’t matter if it was History, English or even Science, I was always writing something and always learning something throughout my writing.

When I write for other people, a great sense of fear appears inside because writing seems to be one of the true abilities to communicate. Not only throughout school, but throughout life. A person can be a great speaker, but in my mind, in order to be a full communicator, a person has to know how to write properly. This fear was completely justified in my mind when I was reading Our Lives as Writers: Examining Preservices’ Teachers Experience and Beliefs about the Nature of Writing and Writing Instruction. This article talks about how important writing is, not only in school, but in the workplace, and regardless of how important writing is in a person’s life/career, children are still struggling in regards to the quality of their writing. Teachers need to be taught how to write just as much as students. How can we be perfect if we make numerous mistakes as well?

I think this article is what makes me sympathetic to students when I’m trying to teach them how to write. Writing seems like it would be so easy, but in all actuality, it’s one of the trickiest parts of teaching English.  A teacher wants to be able to teach, and teach well, without having to worry about testing. This is where our children are falling barely in the middle in regards to testing. I think if we, as educators, can free our mind of the fear of testing, we could probably teach more effectively.

When I was teaching at risk students, I would always have them free write first. I didn’t care if there was any punctuation or any of the capitalization was correct, I just wanted them to start writing. This was good for them to do, because a lot of their levels weren’t grade level. There were some that I would have to teach how to read before I could even attempt to have them construct a sentence. After that, with the students who were able to participate,  I would have them read whatever it was they wrote to themselves and see where punctuation should belong. Then they would give me their rough drafts and I would go over them with each of my students. I didn’t want them to worry about paragraph structure or anything like that in the very beginning. What I liked about this method, is that it was an assessment of where each student needed help. This way, when I would go over paragraph structure, I wasn’t boring half of the class because that was the main thing my students needed help with.

The mark of a good teacher is the constant wanting and willingness to learn, and in order for us to be able to teach those who will become our future, we need to learn more.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Introduction

  1. Hi Jessica,
    I think you hit upon the reason so many of us are anxious about our abilities as writers – we feel like we are exposing ourselves as communicators. And once it’s out there – it’s out there. You can’t rely on someone just forgetting what you said if you make a mistake, they can keep going back and looking at it over and over! I think a lot of us, especially in academia, place a high value on fluent communication skills, most often expressed in our writing. I think it’s compounded for teachers maybe because of grading – we spend so much time looking at other people’s writing and grading them maybe we’re worried everyone else is constantly doing that to us! I really value your shared experiences working with at risk writers. As a beginning teacher I love hearing real stories from people who have actually done this work before and not just from idealistic textbooks or other bright-eyed student teachers.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Patricia

    • The fact that a person can go back continuously is what makes things more stressful for me. I have an insane fear of putting my writing on this blog because I know people have to read it and hopefully comment on it and I’m constantly re-reading what I’ve written and cringing. So if I keep doing that, my anxiety says “imagine what other people think when they read your work!” AH! STRESSFUL! Thank you very much for your reply.

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