To start, I have to say that I had a wonderful experience in this class. Being a writing-heavy course, it sounded like it would be my own personal nightmare, but it was actually so inspiring and thought-provoking that the writing itself became a natural element and not something that invoked dread or felt forced.
There were some things that came to me more easily, such as writing the reading reflections for three of our class books. I think this is likely because I’m familiar with the literary analysis genre due to it being a common type of assignment throughout all levels of schooling. There were also some assignments that were more challenging for me, such as the unfamiliar genre project where we were asked to write in a genre that interested us yet with which we didn’t have much experience writing. I chose to write poetry and it ended up taking me an entire week to draft just ONE Tanka poem.
The best part of the class, though, was that it gave me a feeling of preparedness to go out and teach writing to my students. At the beginning of the class, I knew nothing about how to teach writing, especially since I didn’t feel like a writer myself. How can someone teach writing if they don’t identify as a writer or have a passion for writing? In contrast, I now feel like I have the tools and knowledge of best practice to successfully teach writing. More importantly, I learned about myself that I AM a writer and I actually enjoy writing when I am able to make my own decisions and use my own voice. I truly feel like a writer and I have a newfound passion for writing and the power that comes with it.
There are many things I’ve taken to heart from the class, but to keep it succinct I will detail what I believe are the three most important:
1. All students can be good writers given practice, more practice, and thoughtful feedback.
2. It is my job to teach them that they can identify as writers no matter what they write.
3. Student identity, voice, and agency should be valued and incorporated into the curriculum.
When I look at my portfolio as a whole, I am most proud of the growth that it shows for me as a writer. All of my pieces have drafty drafts, drafts, and final pieces which changed either a little or a lot depending on the feedback I received. All of those changes and reflection pieces show both my growth as a writer and the growth of my ability to be a metacognitive thinker.
If I had more time, I would include more professional looking formatting on these web pages. It has been a few months since I updated my website and as with anything tech related, everything changes. There were so many new features when I started creating the layout for these pages and I wanted to include a lot of things to break up the monotony of text, but it takes time to format them correctly and I just didn’t have that time. Also, I wasted a good chunk of time going back and forth between my pages and the WordPress editor because WP does this wonky thing where it says it updated the changes to your page, but then when you go view the page the changes that you just made are nowhere to be found. Then, when you go back into the editor, the changes are…still there…but for some reason aren’t making it out to the published version of the page. Anyway, I digress.
I think that incorporating culturally relevant topics into my curriculum is the best way to engage my students and make them feel like their various identities are valued in my class. However, I am an upper-middle class white woman and the topics and issues that matter to me are sometimes going to be different than the topics and issues that matter to my students. So it will be on me to research and stay informed of what is going on in my students’ lives and the world as a whole.
The feedback I received in this course was unlike any feedback I’d ever received before. Not because it was truly different words or structures, but because it was framed in a way that was non-judgemental, asked questions, and still left me with the power of choice. Instead of someone crossing things out and telling me HOW exactly to revise my piece and what things were wrong, I instead posed thought-provoking questions that left the final decision up to me. These questions gave me new ideas, made me see things in new ways. They gave me insight into others’ experience of my work. Most of the time, I did change my work based on the feedback I received, but just the fact that there was a choice involved was enough to take feedback from anxiety-inducing to anticipatory.
For this portfolio, I think the most helpful feedback would be to let me know what questions pop up as it is being read. When I write, to my own perspective, I always feel like I’ve made everything clear. However, that is almost never the truth and there are areas where I can embellish or add needed explanations. Are there any parts that are not clear or completely understood? Have I missed any critical details?