365 Writing Prompts #1: We Can Be Taught!


Despite my love of writing, it can be difficult to squeeze in writing time after a long day of grad schooling. I’ve realized the main problem is not that I don’t have the focus or energy to write at that point, but that I don’t necessarily have anything to write about that’s actually interesting. If The Power of Habit is teaching me anything, it’s that you have to create simple plans that you can automatically lean on to overcome these goal-blocking obstacles. So my solution for my occasional idea block will be to write a post a day in response to the 365 Days of Writing Prompts I found on WordPress. And of course, I can feel free to write about something else if I have another idea that strikes me instead.

Side note: My Chromebook came with the WordPress app already installed, so it should be even easier for me to access my blog and type something.

Today’s writing prompt: What makes a teacher great? I was a little disappointed by this because I’ve already touched on this topic in my post Thank You, Teacher. Then I thought, this is the perfect prompt to practice showing rather than telling. I’m sure most people who read this prompt automatically start thinking about the traits or habits a good teacher has, and it would be easiest to simply list these things and maybe explain a few in detail. But why not respond to this prompt by describing the behavior of a great teacher in the form of a story?

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We can be great! What makes a teacher great?

Photo from TESL Malaysia: Why Writing is as Important as Math
Photo from TESL Malaysia: Why Creative Writing is as Important as Math

Mr. Planck sat in the teachers lounge, alone except for his stack of grading. Now that he had been switched from teaching creative writing to 11th grade English, he was having to retrain himself, to remember what it is that 11th graders need to focus on, what criticisms they can handle. These weren’t his creative writers who had been hardened by page upon page of his red ink. His writers were unquestionably dedicated to their craft, even if they were occasionally confused about how to obtain perfection.

Most of his 11th graders couldn’t careless about what future adept writing skills held for them. He saw the burn-out simmering behind listless eyes. His felt the burden of their uncertain futures hanging onto their slouched backs as they meandered in and out of his classroom. More than a handful of his students didn’t expect to graduate, so why should they pay attention in his class? That impossible to attain A wouldn’t be strong enough to save them from dropping out.

Amid a long, heavy sigh, Mr. Planck pushed away his grading and ran his fingers through his graying hair. His job was to do more than shove students one step closer to a diploma. He was meant to teach these kids skills for life, skills like persisting in the face of adversity. Maybe they wouldn’t get an A in his class, maybe they wouldn’t even graduate. Maybe they would drop out, but he had to insure that they learned at least one thing that they could carry with them no matter where they ended up. Regardless of how they left him at the end of the year, they needed to be better off than when they first step foot in his class.

Mr. Planck took out tomorrow’s lesson plan. How could he engage his student’s in Hamlet, a play written in a language half of them thought they couldn’t understand? Hamlet was the same age as his students–how would they feel to discover their uncle had murdered their father, taken over his business, and married their mother? Mr. Planck resisted a smile as he jotted down question after question of increasing complexity to stimulate 11th grade brain muscles. Coming up with the questions would be the easy part. Getting his students to see the value in answering them was the challenge.

If he expected them to not give up on themselves, he couldn’t give up on trying to teach them.

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