Yesterday morning, I went with a few other English teachers from Christian School to a workshop in San Jose. It was about teaching writing, and specifically working on timed, "on-demand" writing - the reasons why we do it, ways to teach improvement, etc. It was actually awesome to get new ideas and strategies from someone who's actually used them effectively in the classroom.
The most interesting thing, though, was the way the seminar began. Since we were talking about on-demand writing, the instructor said, we were going to start by doing some writing ourselves. She handed out an essay prompt and had us get out paper. "Are we turning this in?" someone asked. "Yes," the instructor replied. She told us we would have 45 minutes to respond to the prompt, and then told us to begin.
I started taking notes on the prompt, planning out my essay. I wondered if she were really going to have us write or if this were just a simulation. But as I planned my essay, I got excited to write it, realizing that this was going to be interesting. As I finished my outline and started writing the actual essay itself, she told us that we had 40 minutes left. "Piece of cake," I thought. Then she said, "Okay, stop what you're writing and draw a line below it. Underneath, write what you're feeling right now."
I stopped and wrote: "EXHILARATED! I feel challenged and intrigued, like I'm getting a good mental workout. I should write essays more often..." Then she asked us to share our thoughts with someone nearby. I talked to M., the other sophomore English teacher at Christian School with me. When I told her what I'd written and how excited I was to be writing, she said, "You're weird, Lara. I feel stressed out and nervous, and not at all excited by the prospect of having to sit here for 45 minutes and write something for someone else to judge." I was all, "Really? Oh..."
The instructor called for our attention again, explaining that most of us probably felt nervous, anxious, stressed out, and unhappy. "Although," she said, "there are probably a few of you in here who liked the idea of writing, and those people are probably overachievers who were always overachievers in school as well."
Okay, fine, so I was a bit of an overachiever. And okay, maybe I still am. But that's just because I like being a student - I like learning and writing and discussing. As the workshop went on, I asked a number of questions and provided my opinions and comments when the class was asked to participate. By the workshop's end, I was the one "student" in the class whom the teacher knew by name. Goody-goody much? Okay, maybe, but I'm okay with that.
What kind of student were/are you? Goody-goody? Overachiever? Or were you the rebel / trouble-maker / class clown type?