Writing teachers’ troubles

Perhaps new teachers are settling in to assignments they began in September, but lately I’m seeing fewer anguished cries in the comments teachers submit when they sign up for my ezine, Writing Points, but those I see are worrisome.

I urge school administrators and experienced writing teachers to skim these and see if they sound like something someone in your school might have said. If so, please seek that teacher and offer to help. They are trying hard and deserve your support.

I’ve included in square brackets information the teachers provided about their experience teaching writing and their preparation for teaching nonfiction writing.

From public school writing teachers

Do you have any examples of units or lessons with: USB (universal backward design). Actually, I have always looked at the end product and then decided how to get there, since I am a director and stage plays, but the language and length of the new lesson plans is one I need to master. [from teacher with 16 or more years’ experience, better than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

My students have special needs including ADHD [from teacher with 1-4 years’ experience, average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

I teach 7th grade ELA. They are required to write an expository and narrative essay for the Texas Staar Test. I am feeling overwhelmed with the task of teaching them to write for this test in such a short amount of time. At this point, they seem very far from the goal of even writing a decent essay. [from teacher with less than 1 year’s experience, less than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

My students really need for me to be an expert so that I can give them the skills they need to be successful. [from teacher with less than 1 year’s experience, less than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

It is very important that I find the most appropriate strategy to help my immigrant student to write well in English in a short time. [from teacher with less than 1 year’s experience, less than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

Private school writing teachers say

When I was in college, I was taught about teaching writing, but I had enough experience in the classroom to know that all those theories are not that easy to implement in the classroom. Then I taught writing when I first started teaching 15 years ago. Since then, I took some time off to have children and have taught other aspects of English rather than tackle teaching writing. I know I need to do this for my students, but I am intimidated about where to start. [from teacher with 5-9 years’ experience, less than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

College/university writing teachers say

Course I have requires a lot of writing but isn’t billed as a writing course. There are competencies around writing and I try to give feedback but not sure of best way to do so in manner that helps them become better writers.[from teacher with
less than 1 year’s experience, less than average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

I need adequate activities real practices in speaking and writing that should not exceed 20 minutes.[from teacher with
less than 1 year’s experience, totally unprepared for teaching nonfiction writing]

Home school writing teachers say

I currently home school 4 children. I have 2 successful graduates in college. I have one student who is bright, but dislikes writing and struggles in that area of academics. I want her to enjoy writing. [from teacher with 5-9 years’ experience, average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

Adult education teachers say

I am retired teacher who is volunteering at a small technical school to help students who are trying to get their GED. Writing is so hard for them because they do not read much and are not good at expressing how they feel The writing component of the GED is very daunting for many of them. [from teacher with 10-15 year’s experience, average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

Education and school administrators say

I need to know about appropriate prompts for ESL students who are struggling with their writing. Here in Oregon, students who do not pass an on-demand writing assessment must submit two writing pieces in order to graduate. I am really impressed with your insights into designing prompts and teaching writing. I would like to share them with my teacher/coach colleagues who are working with students on this issue. [from administrator with 16 or more years’ teaching experience,  average preparation for teaching nonfiction writing]

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