I taught writing for nearly a decade before I realized that though I loved teaching, something big was missing in my life. I didn't need to climb a mountaintop or go to an ashram in India to figure out what it was: WRITING! I had loved writing stories when I was a kid, but as I got older, I became so focused on academic writing that I nearly forgot the old pleasure I took in making up stories.
That's why yesterday, I was so excited to offer a workshop called "Writing for Writing Teachers" at this year's Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers' annual convention.
I spent most of the day with a group of English teachers from across the province. We began with writing warm up exercises, but by the end of the day, the participants had begun working on a short piece that might just lead them to a bigger project.
Amy, who teaches English and drama at James Lyng High School here in Montreal, told me her goal is not only to do more writing herself, but also to help build a community of writers at her school. "It's through writing and art that we develop our personality," she said.
Deb, who teaches at Riverview High School in Port Cartier, told me she just finished reading my book Miracleville. She also told me about one of her students, Zach, who turns out to be a fan of my Orca Soundings and Currents novels! Deb will be retiring in June, which means she'll have more time for her own writing. "I know I have a story to tell," Deb said. "It's a matter of finding the time."
The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to find the time for things that matter most to us. For me, that's writing. So if you happen to be a writing teacher reading today's blog entry, maybe it's time for you to find the time to make writing a regular habit. What better example is there to set for our students?
Thanks to my friend, teacher Mary Eva, for encouraging me to participate in the QPAT convention. Thanks to QPAT for having me, and to my workshop participants for working hard and being good sports! And a quick shout out to two of my friends, Sebastian and Pearl, who signed up for the workshop... despite having already heard many of my stories!!
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Good morning Monique,
I want to thank you for the wonderful writing, discussion and thinking experience through your writing workshop at convention. So many great tips and such rich storying. I love to hear what others have done and are doing.
I have a couple of questions.
1) When you learned that I worked with deaf and hard-of-hearing students you mentioned something about "Blue Metropolis". I was not able to follow up on this during lunch, can you please elaborate.
2) I NEED more exercises to get my kids writing. Deafness muffles voice, ones own and that of others. I need exercises. For example, I loved the letter exercise! I can see using this with my students - and then talking about word meanings, but the sound and feel of their choices of words in their mouth as they say each. That exercise reminded me of a story. Years ago when I was reading Charlotte's Web to my group of profoundly deaf youngsters (who were learning to listen and communicate through spoken language), I asked them to tell me about their favourite character. Without hesitation, a little girl blurted out "The Goose." because "I love the way the Goose talks. She says appro-appro-appro-approximately. I love the word approximately. I love how it feels in my mouth."
So if you have more ideas for exercises or if you can point me to a reference - I would so appreciate this.
Thank you and have a great day.
Jane Hebert Koufos