There are a couple of standards that I hold as a wife, mother, teacher and general human being. One of these is that I don’t ask or expect people to do things for me that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.
I spent a fair bit of Tuesday’s class explaining to students that writing is a very personal, risky thing. Regardless of what kind of writing one is doing, one is taking a piece of oneself – one’s knowledge, opinion, belief, idea, story, whatever – and putting it down on paper for others to see. For a lot of people, that involves crazy risk – the risk of being rejected or ridiculed or criticized, either for the content or the manner in which the piece was written. I told them that, for the most part, I will be doing in-class writing assignments right next to them and that I will share the results of my work with them as they share theirs with me. They need to be able to trust me, and to see that even someone who has a lot of experience and comfort with writing still has to work to get it right.
About an hour into Tuesday’s two hour composition class, I gave the students a piece of my writing to read and respond to, but I didn’t tell them it was from me. We read it aloud first, then I asked them to read it silently to themselves and do a ten-minute write as a response to the piece.
Out of the 21 kids who came to class Tuesday, about half of them figured out that the writing was mine. Understand that they’d only been in contact with me for about an hour at that point – I’d never had any of them in class before and had never met any of them prior to that morning.
When I asked them about it, one student said “Oh, I could totally tell that you wrote this. You’re so ‘right out there,’ and I can almost hear you saying these things.” The rest of the class nodded in agreement. “This just sounds like something you’d say,” another student commented. This, after having spent only an hour in my presence.
Well, there you go, then.