Thursday, April 17, 2008

Teachers as Writers

I do some teaching, but am primarily a writer. Not unusual. Many, if not most, career writers also teach. But perhaps unlike those who are drawn to teaching first, lots of the writers-who-teach are pretty introverted.

This week I'm leading a group made up of people who are career public school educators and are spending this week (at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching) doing some writing.

After four days, I find myself fascinated by the good things I see in the way teachers conduct themselves as writers.

Almost all of these people are used to "presenting" all day. They are not shy. Or if they are, they're hiding it well. They're also very practiced communicators, with a lot of experience in giving feedback, getting people's attention, laying down the law, and making sure people understand the assignment.

These strengths show in their writing. As writers, they're clear. Bold. They get their message out. Not once have I had the impulse to say: I'm not getting what you mean here.

Whereas, my biggest struggle as a writer is to be sure I'm not too understated. And that's a fairly common piece of feedback in the writing group I've been in for years.

So it's refreshing and inspiring to sit with writers who, with very little hesitation, get their thoughts on the page and their writing out to others. And, for the teacher-writers, it's a great advantage they have as they begin a new kind of writing, for self-expression.

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Anonymous said...

Peggy- Thank you for such a wonderful workshop- you have helped us to find our voice, to find that inner person shouting out loud as we wrote from our heart and our soul.
I want to say that you have given me the ability to work through my troubles and in the process- put the words that I could not say down in black and white.

Thank you-

Peggy said...

Lisa, you and all the others taught me so much about teaching and about people this week. It was a landmark week for me. I am changed by it. Thank you.

And I'm convinced you have an exciting rest-of-your-life up ahead.

Peggy said...

Also for other readers, do go to Lisa's blog-- read her powerful story of courage, about being widowed four months ago, only a few weeks into her marriage.

Dewey said...

I am a teacher first and a writer second, and I think it's a mistaken assumption that people who are more teachers than writers are introverted. I am, in fact, very introverted. I think there's a difference, though, between shy and introverted. I am a people-loving, outgoing introvert. This may not seem to make sense at first thought, but in fact, I a) love people and b) am not shy at all but c) have very limited social energy. Introverts are re-energized by spending time alone, and fatigued by spending time with people, as comfortable and happy as they may be with those people. I hope this makes sense.

Peggy Payne said...

You're right. I was stereotyping. Caught!

But how can anyone with very limited social energy spend six or seven hours a day in the classroom?

I'd need three days to recover from one of those. And I'm a fairly chatty sort who enjoys people.

Is it a matter of just getting used to it?

Peggy Payne said...

Oops, I did it again: jumped to a conclusion, made a shaky assumption.

When you said teacher, I pictured k-12. Could be that you teach a class every other week.

I need to get out my assumometer and pay attention to this.