A Thank You Note to Every Struggling Writer I Ever Taught

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Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/3W8FN


Flashing back to this piece, which I wrote many years ago:

You know as well as I do that there are writers who don’t need teachers.

They show up, hunker down, and do their thing.

Every sentence they craft is a masterpiece of sorts.

They’re eager to please, and they do it effortlessly.

These aren’t the writers who made me a teacher.

You are.

You, with your hesitant beginnings and meandering plot lines.

You, with your mixed messages and logical fallacies.

You, with your improper grammar and imprecise word choice.

You, with your fear and even, your anger.

I wouldn’t be a teacher without you and your struggle.

I look over your shoulder, I write beside you, I wonder wonder wonder what question I must ask you.

Which one will serve as a lamp to light up the darkness you’ve invited me into?

It took such courage for you to bring me here.

It takes courage for me to admit that you aren’t the only struggling writer in the room.

I am too.

Thank you for teaching me more than I could ever teach you.

Together, we’re discovering that the beauty of writing has little to do with producing perfect pieces.

Flashing  forward to last night, in the Teachers Throwing Out Grades Facebook Group:

Laura Cox Witherington suggested that if our assessment doesn’t require us to think–really hard–about the learners we serve and the work they produce, the conclusions we draw aren’t likely to be very accurate. This resonated with me on many levels, particularly because I’ve been steeped in so much work relevant to visible learning lately.

It drove home this greater and far more meaningful realization though: when we help kids make their learning visible, when they invite us into their process and even, their struggle, they make us teachers.

It’s hard to remember this when we’re frustrated and feeling unsuccessful in our attempts to support the kids who need it most.

It’s true though: the learners who struggle the most are the ones who make us teachers.

Which of your students deserves a thank you note today?

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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.

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