Most of this week was devoted to finishing up the nine weeks, and you guys typed your short stories in class. The majority of the week was comprised of independent work. I guess the end of a nine weeks typically looks like this. I could tell most of you were really anxious about composing your short stories. Some of you thought yours were great, some of you thought yours were horrible, some of you tried to write essays instead. I get it. Unfortunately, testing has sucked a lot of creativity out of teaching and writing for students. Sadly the mantra has become "If it isn't going to help us on the test, why do it, right?"
Wrong. I am not going to lie. I was one of the first skeptics regarding the value of this assignment. Surely, the Springboard curriculum got this one wrong. Why do students need to know how to write creatively when they are asked to do it so little?
Now having completed the unit, I can say for certain it was a most valuable investment of time. You guys were challenged to be expressive, think outside the box, generate something from nothing, mimic what good writers do, and produce an original piece. This is not an easy task.
I can say this for certain because each week I write this blog, I also find myself staring at a blank computer screen wondering what words will manifest. Will it be good? Will anyone read it? Will anyone want to read it? How can I make the words do what I want them to do? Say what I want them to say? Control the words without the words controlling me? Even after many years of teaching writing and two degrees, I still struggle, and yet you all were able to make something from nothing at fourteen years old.
Yes, this is a most necessary skill, to be able to think and create. What could be more important than that? I have read several of the stories, and so far, I have been thoroughly impressed. I have so many incredible students and am daily reminded of how fortunate I am to wake up every morning and do what I love. I hope many of you get to do the same thing in adulthood. If you do, I promise it will never feel like work, even if you are grading 157 short stories written by fourteen year olds. Oh my gosh, do I seriously have 157 short stories to grade? Please let some of them be really good.
I already know of one that is good, really good. This student, who shall remain anonymous, wrote a short story very personal in nature. This story moved me in ways I could never convey in words. When I am a retired teacher who thinks back fondly on my years in the classroom, I know this short story will be in my reserve of memories.
I have already read it a dozen times. By the way, do you still have 157 essays to grade if you read the same one 12 times? This should put me down to 145, right? But I digress. This story was stellar for many reasons. One, it was very well written, hardly an error in sight, which is rare to see in my line of work. Secondly, the story stood out because of the message, or as we call it in class, the theme. Essentially, the story is a character questioning the value of time, and how we end up wasting a lot of it.
The story reminded me of something I already knew but had somehow forgotten. We do not have much time on this planet. How we use the time we have been given is very important. Aside from teaching, I always wanted to be a writer. I suppose I became a teacher because it was the more practical of the two. I knew what teachers did, but the job of a writer seemed more elusive. Does one become a journalist, a novelist, a freelance writer, or what exactly? Now, I know, a writer just writes, plain a simple.
All of you became writers this week, and your teacher did too. I am tired of the hands of the clock mocking me. I know you guys are too. Let's do something big together, like we already have
Time's a Wastin',