Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Sometimes It Gets Ugly
I'm starting a personal narrative unit with my freshmen, so in looking for mentor texts, I decided to share a couple of blogs posts with them. I wanted them to see how to take a small, everyday moment and explode it into a piece of writing.
I've discovered that since sharing with all of you on this blog, I don't mind sharing my writing with my students. It gives me another audience and it lets them see that when I talk about writing, I know a little something.
As I was reading, I discovered something...
I write a lot about the successes in my classroom. It sounds like a magical place to be.
it's just plain ugly.
For every boy who comes in, excited about his poetry, there's five more who would rather do homework for other classes, check out Craig's list, and watch videos on YouTube. By the way, the tech guy in our district called me one day when a boy was on Craig's List, that's how I know it happens. The truth is, in teaching an elective class on writing, you get kids in your class who DON'T LIKE TO WRITE!
I know. Hard to believe.
For every student who writes a wonderful, intense memoir in verse, there's the others who if feels like I have to drag words out of their mouths with my hands.
I might convince a student to come to school every day for a week....
But then she misses two days the next week.
Here's the truth. My teaching is sometimes just down right ugly. Ugly days I'd just as soon forget. Ugly days I'd like to take back and start over.
There are days I am behind my desk just way to much.
Days I spend Creative Writing time grading papers or planning for the afternoon classes instead of talking with my writers.
I'm STILL working with 9th graders to make them thinkers and learners instead of receptacles. Many days, I feel like I'm trying to herd cats. Reading and writing workshop--forget it.
Sometimes, those ugly days end with an email from a student:
"Sooo I really miss creative writing and being able to write everything that was on my mind down and have someone read it and comment and feel everything I'm feeling. Are there any writing competitions or anything I can do stuff for? I really miss just showing the emotions I normally hide..."
And then, I put the ugly days back in the closet and celebrate small successes....