Journals 27/31 #SOL

I used to write when I was young and I remember carrying this sporadic practice into university. I shared my short stories with roomates; and then I shared poems with my professor. I remember the day quite vividly; a summer course and we were walking down the interlocking pathway between buildings, the sun warm and the air clean and sweet smelling. His assessment was startling. Not that he wasn’t giving me what I asked for so much as the fact that I was not ready for his brutal takedown. He read, then responded, and I stopped writing.

After the birth of my daughter, I started writing again, documenting a journey to a foreign place in myself and although I have that journal saved, I have not read it since. I recognize the outside cover knowing what it stands for. I’m not ready to read that writing, to return to that place in time through such a tangible form – not yet, anyway. In those years, when I had written enough and found my way in this new role, I stopped writing.

Now as a teacher of reading and writing I am startled by my own failures in writing. Looking back now, at some of the formulaic writing that have I taught, I am saddened. So many lost opportunities in the past twenty plus years and I wonder how many students in my classes stopped writing.

Nonetheless, instead of letting regret turn to despair, I am taking writing seriously on the rest of this journey.

11 thoughts on “Journals 27/31 #SOL

  1. I hope you will dare to read the journal of your journey after your daughter’s birth. I am just now trying to find similar courage, to re-read the tough stuff, to reflect on how it touches me after so much time. These words hit hard, “He read, then responded, and I stopped writing.” – we KNOW, as teachers, to not let anyone have this hold on us, and yet, we do let them. Let it go!!

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  2. I echo Maureen’s sage advice. Look, your professor was wrong to beat up on your writing. He DID NOT model the kind of feedback that would move your writing forward. I had an English professor like that and have been intending to write about him. I suspect the tender hurt you felt from that professor kept you from being as brutal w/ your students, even though you can look back and realize you could have done a better job teaching writing. I think lots of us of our generation feel this way, yet we know pedagogy evolves and changes. In twenty years teachers will know more and will have “should have, could have” moments just as we do now. Sending you a big hug.

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  3. “I am taking writing seriously on the rest of this journey.” Yes! I’ve been thinking a lot about a student of mine who received brutal feedback in grade 9 & and stopped writing. I definitely regret the formulaic teaching I’ve done (the 11-sentence paragraph – what was I thinking?) but, like you, I am determined to go forward and do better now – and that means writing for myself, too. Thank you for this.

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  4. I think I was blessed to have teachers of writing who had a gentle touch, and because of that, most of my shutdowns were self-inflicted, but as for regretting methods or approaches or assignments that I’ve used, that’s a regular problem. I appreciated the way you used your own struggles and pauses to help you see how you want to move forward. That, in itself is a powerful writing lesson that you just taught your readers.

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  5. I teach 3rd graders, and I feel like there is always that fine line of seeing the beauty in what they’ve written and sharing my excitement about their ideas and then guiding them to think of a way to push themselves. I hate to think of you never looking at that part of you that wrote from the heart after your daughter’s birth. It’s going to be a beautiful homecoming one day when you decide you want to revisit. I will never forget the teacher who told me to go to the “stupid math group” in front of an enormous room full of children. It took a lifetime of pushing myself to believe math was my thing to overcome that. I’m sorry for the loss of all those writing years. Thank you for sharing this slice.

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  6. Your words are spot on again. There is a poem that my niece wrote that my parents have put by the door in their garage. She was eight or nine when she wrote it, and I remember my uncle, who is a poet and a retired writing teacher, saying that the poem was beautiful. He said he, “hoped that she would continue to write without the interference of any well meaning teachers.” Your post reminds us to guide with care.

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