Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reflections: Part 1 Being a Teacher of Writing

Part I: A Teacher of Writing
This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Check out the educators resource tab! There are entire curriculum guides from upper elementary-adult education available to download completely for free.

For the 1st part of your blog response this week please click on the link below to hear a This I Believe essay written by professional skateboarder (and San Diego native) Tony Hawk:


Please construct a This I Believe statement that pertains to being a teacher of writing. You determine both the topic(s) you want to cover, the length of your statement and how you want to attempt the prompt. It is your opinion. Feel free to utilize anyone else you've read from this semester to support your statement.


  1. I believe that children are beautiful creatures with beautiful thoughts and beautiful minds. I believe that when children are given a forum to express these beautiful thoughts, the possibilities are limitless and that they are then free to become who they are destined to be. Teachers have the awesome responsibility and duty to provide such a forum and foster a spirit of belief in children and the beautiful work they create. Writing, whether it is in a journal, in a notebook, on facebook, in a text message, on a blog, on Word, Google or just a plain piece of paper, has the ability to be a powerful modality of expression of self for children and adults alike. When quality teaching meets quality writing practices, our children have a voice. Being a teacher of writing is to believe that all children can write and creating diverse opportunities that allow children to do so. Being a teach or writing means not limiting children to a formulated response such as the 5-paragraph essay, but rather playing with words, sentences and language to allow students to see the great possibilities behind writing. Being a teacher of writing means challenging and guiding children to express their ideas, feelings, and thoughts in creative, unique outlets thus preparing them to be global thinkers and problem zolvers as they enter into an ever-changing, unknown world. I believe that being a teacher of writing means teaching children that through writing, anything is possible.

  2. I believe that being a teacher is a way of life. I have dedicated my life to learning. I have dedicated the past twenty three years of my life as a student. Soon I will be dedicating my life to teaching. I believe teachers and students have a symbiotic relationship. We learn from each other. As a teacher, I believe I can always learn something new from my students and my students can always learn something new from me and their classmates. I believe in the spirit of learning. I believe every child and adult can learn. I believe it is my responsibility to teach students the skills and knowledge that will enable them to be active citizens in their own learning and in the world around them.

  3. I believe that students are brave. I believe that education is, in a way, a surrender. When you open yourself to learning, you are surrendering a bit of yourself-a corner of your mind, a fragment of your heart-and placing in the hands of your teacher. I believe in holding tightly but gently to these pieces of my students, the way you would clutch a precious, fragile gift. I don’t believe in failure. I believe that no student is unteachable. I believe that my way is not the best or only way. I believe that I too, am always learning and that my students are often my teachers.

  4. I believe that being a teacher is a gift, patience and love of education is not something that everyone holds. I believe that teachers, especially writing teachers (which all teachers should be), need to be firm and loving. I believe that you must let students know their strengths, that you must let them know (gently) their weaknesses. I believe that a good teacher won’t always be loved, they might sometimes even be despised. I believe that a teacher’s tough love will carry students farther than a “good” grade.

  5. This is Ilana...

    A long, long time ago when I was really sick in a hospital I promised that if I got another chance I wouldn't waste it on buying new clothes, worrying about cars and houses, and focusing on the things in life that don't really matter. I believe everyone has a story. I believe everyone needs support and everyone needs someone who truly belives in them. I belive children are capable of reaching whatever bar we hold up for them. I believe they are able to make sense of the world in ways that we can't imagine.

    I believe teaching is facilitating all the ideas, passion, intelligence kids already have so they can achieve their dreams. I also believe teaching means dropping judgements, assumptions, and our own personal baggage as soon as the kids walk through our door. I believe our goal is to help students reach their dreams rather than ask them to reach the dreams we have for them or for ourselves.

  6. Alecia WallingfordMarch 6, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I believe that writing in the classroom should not be limited to the five paragraph essay and rigid grammatical rules. I believe that writing in the classroom should provide students with a way to express their creativity and life experiences. Writing should be taught with sensitivity, enthusiasm and deep care for a student's development.

    From middle school to high school, a sense of dread would come over me when my teacher would announce a writing assignment. I struggled with the 5 paragraph essay and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to quite get it right. I had only been exposed to the 5 paragraph essay and because I could not get it right, believed I was a poor writer. I began to avoid writing.

    I believe that rather than focusing so strongly on structure, a teacher must provide student's with opportunities to use their creativity. The teacher must expose student's to real writer's texts rather than grammar workbooks, as a guide to their writing development. I believe children will come to love and enjoy the act of writing, while learning, if a teacher gives his/her student's the proper guidance and support. To guide student's, a teacher must show them that writing is not all about the 5 paragraph model, but is about finding their voice, and creating ways ways through writing to express it.

    I believe it is up to me as a teacher, to help children build a long and meaningful relationship with writing, a relationship I was unable to create until graduate school.

  7. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to find their voice. I believe that teaching a child how to write does more than satisfy a state standard, it gives the gift of empowerment. There is a common thread throughout everything we have read for this class: Teaching writing is more than teaching rules and forms. When we truly teach writing, we are providing our students with the tools to express themselves, to celebrate who they are, and to enact change in the world.
    It is incumbent on us to teach children who come from oppressed groups, such as racial and language minorities, to learn how to find their voices in their own way. When teaching the standard English dialect we need to be careful that we don’t send messages that degrade where our students came from. When they speak from other experiences and dialects, they are enriching all of us. What a tragedy it would be to deprive ourselves of the power of their language.
    There are too many forces that can silence our children’s voices. There are the forces of “scholastic achievement” that promote adherence to a certain form in the name of satisfying standardized requirements. There are the forces of remediation that seek to give students from oppressed backgrounds minimal tools in order to achieve satisfactory scores on the state tests without equipping them with ways of thinking and writing that could really ensure success in college and beyond. There are the forces of lowered expectations that say this is all we can expect of these children. They deserve high expectations. They deserve a chance to learn how to be heard in the most powerful way possible.
    Children of privilege also need to be given a chance to find their voices. They need to be freed from the idea that success lies in crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. They need to know that true expression can be messy and that maybe sometimes it’s best to satisfy themselves before satisfying all of the adults in their lives. Children of privilege have a responsibility to use their voices because from their advantaged circumstances, they can help others.
    In our increasingly digitized world, it is the word that has power. Communication through electronic media occurs through writing. We only have to look at recent events in the Middle East to see how much change can be brought about through the transmission of words.
    When we help children to find their voice, we are giving them power. Some might find this threatening, but I see reason for hope.

  8. I believe that every child deserves an equal opportunity. Every child should have the opportunity to come to school and receive a valuable education. I believe every students should have a school with a positive learning environment. They should be surrounded by teachers who are educated and passionate about what they do. I believe students should be able to express themselves for who they are. Although they will be learning new material, and academic language, their home language and where they come from should not be pushed aside. It should be embraced and incorporated into the curriculum as much as possible, while still teaching Stand English grammar. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to express who they are. They should be able to write and speak openly, as long as it is appropriate. I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to have confidence and pride in their work. As a teacher, I believe to promote and encourage the students so they want to take the chance in their writing and feel confident. I believe that students should not be discouraged in their writing and immediately corrected. This will take away from their confidence and desire to write. With an equal opportunity, a good academic environment, and support, students will be able to grow as individual writers.

  9. This I Believe
    I believe writing is a way to speak one’s mind freely and the mission of being a teacher of writing is to show students how to express their minds freely and effectively.

    When I started writing in elementary school, the first thing we did was to remember the formula of a story. We must tell when, who, where and what happened at the first paragraph and make a detailed description of what happened in the second paragraph and a summary of what we have learned from the experience in the last paragraph. In junior secondary school and high school we learned how to write different genres under similar trainings. For me, writing was all about formulas, grammars, and exams, hardly about myself. As a result, I never liked writing very much before.

    From this course, I learned more about writing as a way to speak my mind. I felt my writings become more lively and meaningful than before. Therefore, I believe teaching writing is not to teach grammar, not another way to train students to become obedient citizens, not to write for teachers, but rather to develop students’ thinking as individuals making meaning through the act of composing, to tell the stories of themselves to different audience and for different purposes, and to encourage them to trust their beliefs and feelings so they can jump off cliffs and developing their wings on the way down.

  10. I believe writing is an outlet for a release of some of your most personal and intimate thoughts. I believe writing is a tool to speak your mind without actually speaking. I believe that writing should be encouraged as a place to go to gather your thoughts, organize ideas, express one's opinions and share one's experiences. As a teacher of writing we should encourage and provide a positive attitude for writing. I believe as teachers of writing we should inspire our students with writing and foster the idea that there isn't one formula for writing. I believe as teachers of writing we should incorporate cooperative learning into the writing curriculum. I believe giving each other positive feedback rather than focusing on what is incorrect is the best approach to improving a student's writing. Furthermore, I believe that all students should be given the opportunity to express their creativity and ideas through words on paper. Writing often is given a bad reputation, so it is our job to encourage students and make writing engaging and something they look forward to.