Now that the long July 4th holiday is over, I’m back and up to no good. I just posted a writing prompt at National Writing Project iAnthology site, inviting teachers to write about a student who changed. I hope you’ll visit the site, but if you aren’t already a member you’ll need to sign up (which is a good thing) to read the prompt, posted in the “Writing Into the Week” group.
To be helpful to the iAnthology writers, I’m re-posting the minilesson on writing a teacher story about a student’s transformation, something I provided in a post here a few weeks ago. This process would also work well for someone writing about a great teacher he or she had. Here it is.
- First, it’s a good idea to think about the audience and purpose for your story. If it’s going to a wider public (which I think is really important) here’s what I suggest: Avoid education jargon. It needs to be vivid and grab people’s attention. It ought to have a clear point that non-educators can relate to. And it shouldn’t sound whiny – sure we have plenty of obstacles, but let’s inform people about what good teaching really entails and why it matters.
- Now, think of some very specific, concrete moment in your teaching experience — a student who was a real challenge but who made a breakthrough during the year, or a class that was disengaged and you found a way to reach them. Want examples? Visit my blog on the Patch.com Evanston news site for three great stories. Or read this piece at Education Week Teacher just the other day.
- Next, try to picture one or several very specific moments when this student or class was struggling, resisting, or having a lightbulb go off. One of my favorite examples is in teacher Megan Allen’s testimony to Congress. Write a chunk of narrative to describe this moment (or moments). Ralph Fletcher’s books on teaching writing talk a lot about the power of focusing on such moments.
- Next step: Talk about what you learned from this professional experience — or what you’d like a reader to learn from it, or what it tells us about education policies or practices. This chunk will probably go at or near the end of your piece. You could hint about it at the start, but don’t go into a lot of theory or explanation there because that will bog things down.
- Finally, there will be some trimmings to add — introducing yourself and/or the scene at the start, adding a punch-line at the end, some connective tissue along the way.
Teacher Voice, Teacher writing