As I was looking through my computer for a document, I found this “essay” that I wrote for a newsletter almost 5 years ago. I thought it would be fun to share it here. I was tutoring a student this morning and we were talking about writing so I realized that this topic is always important. Also, I wrote the article in May so I do say that I wish I was outside but now…I can hear the snow hitting my window so I am ok with being inside.
I hope you enjoy this and don’t forget to “write. write, write” !!
What to write, what to write…
How many of you learners (or tutors for that matter) ask that same question? I am sitting at my desk, trying not to look out the window. I want to get outside and get in my garden but I feel I must sit here and face the wall and write something for the blog.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Ok, maybe I am. Who wants to be inside on a beautiful May afternoon writing a 5 paragraph essay? If anyone but Maureen puts up their hands, I will yell at you. But I need to do this. I need to write something to the volunteers and tutors to encourage, inspire and motivate you all to write. But I still don’t know what to write about.
What I am trying to get at with these opening paragraphs is that writing is hard. I have been writing essays and other things for many years but I still have trouble finding ideas when I need to produce a masterpiece. We, as tutors/instructors, want our learners to sit and write a paragraph or a three paragraph essay or the dreaded, 5 paragraph essay but can we do it ourselves? So in this “essay”, I will try to give some encouragement and advice for all of us.
- Write about what you know. Who knows more about you than you? You have life experiences that only you have. How many of you have had the chance to run your fingers through the best head of hockey hair ever to race down a hockey rink? I have. If I had more time, I would write a story about the time I was able to touch that hair but I digress. People enjoy reading about your experiences and these experiences are easy to write about because you lived it. We don’t need to write about the historical significance of the Capitulary of Saxony. Do you care about that or would you even want to read about it?? No, but you might like to read about a special event in the life of someone you are starting to know. Tell us your story
- When you write, you are still learning. Every time you write you still have to follow the rules of grammar, spelling and writing. Even though you may be telling your story, we still need to be able to read it. If you used misspelled words or improper grammar, we wouldn’t be able to understand what you want to say. We want to concentrate on your story not be distracted “buy rong wrods or badd speling.” Have someone look over your work to see that your thoughts are clearly understood. If you don’t know how to spell a word, look it up. If you don’t know if a sentence is proper, ask for help. Your story is what we want to enjoy
- Write, write, write. You may never hear this again from me but who cares what you write about, just write. We don’t care if you write about the effects of eating too many blueberries over a 24 hour period of time, (well, don’t be too gross). Just write. Take 10 minutes a day and sit and write about your thoughts, a memory or a plan to make the Leafs win the cup (you could make money on that one if it works ) You don’t have to share your writing with anyone. But the more you write, the better you will become. Practice, practice, practice. The more you write, the more you will be able to find your own mistakes and then improve. But if you don’t write, you will never improve.
When I first started teaching adults I was worried. I wanted to make sure that I treated each learner with respect and dignity. I didn’t want them to do any work that they felt was too easy. But I soon learned that many adults, who have returned to upgrade their skills, were never taught how to write properly. I had a very wise mentor that told me, “if your student can write, then don’t worry about the rest.” Your writing doesn’t have to be long or filled with 15 letter words. Your writing has to be interesting and readable. The more your write, the more you will learn to be a good writer. A lot of learning comes by just writing. Well, as I write this, I must admit that you won’t learn fractions by writing but maybe I now have the topic for the next blog. Hmmmm, let me think. “How to learn fractions when you only have HALF a brain.” Nope that’s not it. “Fractions – eating ¾ of the pie is bad for you.” There we go, everyone likes pie
If anyone, learners or tutors, would like to share with us some of your writings, we would love to include your masterpieces in our newsletter. But in order to do this, first you must write, write, write.