I know it sounds weird coming from the mother of a toddler (who is too young for school), but I am excited to start this school season. I coach writing students through an online company during the school year. This year, especially, I have missed the interaction and the learning process for both them and me.
Yes, I, the teacher, learn. Perhaps more than the students. I learn about how to best communicate with different personalities as I try to give constructive criticism and explain new concepts. Through trial and error, I discern what kind of tone and comments help which students best. Some students need concrete instructions, detailed and exhaustive. Other students respond to the slightest of hints. While a few individuals I am still trying to figure out halfway through the semester. It is a challenge that uses all my skills, not just as a writer or teacher, but as a person.
Through the semester, I also am given a unique opportunity to see into other's minds. Writing is a very personal and revealing experience. Through the words my students put on the screen, I learn about their home life, their dreams, they aspirations, and their personality. That is what I like best about them, too, their personality. When a student sends in a paper brimming with a special tone that is all their own, I find myself excited about reading and working on it. I have discovered that writing from the heart sings to the reader despite errors and problems much more than writing that is held at a distance by the author and technically perfect. I find myself hoping to instill a joy of writing more than to teach the student the rules. Rules they can memorize and look up. Learning to write from the heart is much harder concept to teach and implement.
Lest you think you should throw out your grammar book and say, "Rachel Rossano says that the emotion behind the writing is more important than all the rules," I don't believe that. Rules have their place and purpose. Without the guidelines of grammar, punctuation, and organization, the meaning of the words would be lost to the reader. Those things are just as important as putting one's heart into one's writing, but writing from the heart is a harder skill to learn.
So, here's to a new season of exploration, learning, and discovery. Come on school year. Bring it on!
- Rachel Rossano