Peter Elbow’s Latest Revolution

For the past third of my career teaching composition, I’ve been trying to recreate the flow of the first two thirds. I think that finally I have a clue about how to do this from reading Peter Elbow’s recent book Vernacular Eloquence. The title is a play on Dante’s treatise Vulgaris Eloquence, a defense of the use of everyday Latin. […]

Lessons from My Students

I, like Karen, want my students to see themselves as writers.  Right now, I’m neck-deep in grading my first batch of essays for the year, a writing reflection project that asks students to examine how technology has affected their writing.  During class discussions surrounding this project, I have come to realize the extent to which my students are already writers: […]

When the Student is Not Ready

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. That proverb was once my mantra. On the days early in my career when I would leave class with an aching head and a sore throat, I would surrender to forces beyond my control all the shrugging, eye rolling, discouraging responses, and awkward, if not chaotic, offerings I had received in response to my assignments, advice, and exhortations.  That  ageless wisdom offered me the […]

What I Know for Sure – Oprah

As I move into my third week teaching an advanced writing class to juniors and seniors on my campus, most of whom have recently finished a degree at a community college and are now transferring into the four-year system, I’ve found myself reflecting more on my teaching of writing. At the beginning of every semester, I ask my students to […]

High School: Day One

This morning, as I greeted a new batch of ninth graders into my first block English class, I knew I wasn’t the only one with transition on the mind. I’m sure it was a shock to all of us to hear that alarm clock ring so early in the morning, officially transitioning us out of our summer slumber to face […]