I know I’ve said it 852 times, but I cannot sing her praises enough. My high school English teacher was the best teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure to learn under throughout my entire educational career. Since I’ve come to college to pursue my own career path in English, the great professors and classes I’ve experienced have forced me to look back and examine what exactly made her so great. I strongly believe one reason is that though she was delivering instruction within the realm of state standards, we never once felt confined. My favorite semester being her student was the fall of my senior year when she focused both quarters on composition. Sure, she taught us the basics of different genres of writing but she also let our creativity run wild. During those three months I wrote a descriptive essay on Hogwarts, a humorous personal narrative of the hell that was lifeguarding class, a research paper on Christian discipleship, and a short story about a mysterious stalker. Though I enjoyed writing before, she allowed me to fall in love with it all over again, and allowed my classmates who didn’t enjoy writing to explore it in ways that were relevant to them. How awesome is that?
This class (theory and practice of teaching writing) is quite similar, though at the opposite end of the spectrum. In high school, my teacher struck a balance with guiding us through the standards while also letting us roam the concept of writing. In college, my professor struck a balance with letting us self-instruct while still making sure we meet the standards. Like many of my fellow classmates have confessed, I did not acquaint myself with the Rule 24 Outcomes at the beginning of the semester. Each day I may not have been aware of how the work we were was meeting the outcomes, but looking back I can see clearly now (the rain is gone). 🙂
There are two standards that particularly stand out to me in regards to this course, number four and number seven. Let’s start with the former. Number four deals with creating assessments, and while we didn’t do this so much it is the first element beneath this standard that I believe applies well to this class. “Candidates use their knowledge of theory, research, and practice in English Language Arts to plan standards-based, coherent, and relevant composing experiences that utilize individual and collaborative approaches and contemporary technologies and reflect an understanding of writing processes and strategies in different genres for a variety of purposes and audiences” (Miller). Theory, research, and practice. Between learning about 19th century teaching of writing, expanding my knowledge of digital literacy, exploring the idea of writing workshops in a high school setting, and listening to the findings of my peers I feel as though I have gained invaluable knowledge that can now be translated from my mind into application for my future classroom. Even though we didn’t make concrete lesson plans, this class helped us instead to build up the experience that is the foundation of those lesson plans.
Standard number seven reads as follows, “Candidates are prepared to interact knowledgeably with students, families, and colleagues based on social needs and institutional roles, engage in leadership and/or collaborative roles in English Language Arts professional learning communities, and actively develop as professional educators” (Miller). Other classes have told me what it will be like to interact with others as an educator, but this is the first to (holy smokies) actually make it real. The way we completed our assignments, through blogging and the class Weebly site, fit this criteria to a T. This entire time we have been learning how to interact with a world that is bigger than ourselves. Going a step further, beyond simply interacting with others we have been sharing incredibly important information that other educators might be able to then apply to their own classrooms. On a personal level, one blog post in particular— Dear Students, Dear Parents— was my favorite assignment I’ve completed this entire semester because I knew that it was an artifact that I would physically take with me and utilize in the “real world.” Though at times this class made me feel like a blind woman being asked to describe in detail the colors of a painting she had never witnessed, I now feel as though I can go out and paint my own picture.
So, Rule 24 now and before (who doesn’t love a good rhyme, am I right?) My marvelous high school teacher may not have been teaching towards the Rule 24 collegiate standards specifically, but the effect was still there. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of more than one class in my life that gamed the system in such a subtle, lovely way. Not all standards are good, and not all standards are bad. Either way, they often work towards backing people into a corner they don’t belong in. As a teacher, it is important to recognize this and create a force field of creativity, curiosity, and diversity around your classroom… Like senior composition or theory and practice of teaching writing. That’s what teaching writing is all about— making small sacrifices for the future, for the creation of a nation of explorers who take in anything and everything about the world around them, for a generation who use their own thoughts and ideas to leave this world better than they found it.
Miller, Lee. ENG 331.0100 Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing Syllabus. 2017. English Dept., Chadron State College, Chadron, NE. Microsoft Word file.