For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed writing. Writing is an opportunity for me to express my thoughts and feelings while helping me grow to understand who I am as an individual, a student and furthermore, a future teacher. Yet, if someone were to ask me how I do it, I am afraid I could not give him or her a clear and precise answer. Trying to find that answer almost seems harder for me than the actual writing process itself. However, after having done my student teaching last semester, I have learned that modeling my own writing for the students not only helps them to see more clearly how I write, but helps me understand how I write as well.
My first student teaching experience took place in a seventh-grade English classroom during the second half of the school year. The first couple of weeks gave me an opportunity to observe both the teacher and the students participating in various writing activities. One assignment in particular asked the students to choose a topic of interest and write down on paper all the information that they already knew about this subject. A simple assignment, right? Sitting off to one side of the classroom, I decided to attempt the assignment. On the top of my paper I wrote the word "athletics". Under it, I wrote about why I chose the topic, what it meant to me and how it has played a crucial role in my life. Before I knew it, I had covered one and a half pages with information.
When the time was up to stop writing, I looked around the classroom and noticed some of the students appeared a bit confused. The assignment was not a difficult one, not for me anyway. When the teacher began asking students to share what they had written with the class, it was interesting to find that only a few volunteered. The rest of the class sat silent while a cloud of confusion seemed to sit over their heads. After only a few of them shared their writing, the rest of the class period was given to either continue writing on the same topic or to try writing about other topics of interest. This assignment was to be handed in at the end of class. My cooperating teacher encouraged me to walk around during this time and assist the students in need of help.
What I was about to experience during the next fifteen minutes would be completely shocking for me. As I walked around the classroom, I began noticing that many of the papers on the desks remained blank. There was not a word, not even the slightest marking. In an attempt to investigate the matter, I decided to sit down with a student named Laila. I asked her why her paper was blank. She replied, "I just don't know what to write about." I asked her if she had any interest in hobbies, sports, instruments, pets, etc. She replied, "I love horseback riding. I have my own horse and I ride him in competitions. His name is Sandy." Perfect. She had an interest in horses. I asked her if maybe she would be interested in writing what she knew about horses. Before we both knew it,...