How I have grown as a teacher and a writer these past few months at the Borinquen Writing Project

Taking these two graduate courses at USC has afforded me the opportunity to take a break from the bustle and hustle of my daily teaching routine and reflect upon my instructional practices. It has also allowed me to bond more closely with three of my CPN colleagues, renew and refresh my knowledge of Elbow, Graves, and Atwell, and encounter some new and useful theorists and theories which will surely continue to inform my teaching in the future. Most importantly, my time as a student at the Borinquen Writing Project has enabled me to become part of a wonderful community of teachers who are engaged and dedicated to the teaching of writing in Puerto Rico. I look forward to becoming a BWP teaching consultant and expanding our teaching and learning community even more.

In the past two months, I have enjoyed spending time with my fellow teachers, writing, sharing, and responding to each other’s writing. I particularly enjoyed sharing with the other participants my experiences implementing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in the classroom; preparing my presentation helped me both reflect on last year’s NaNoWriMo journey and plan for this year’s extension of the activity beyond my classroom and my students. I also appreciated the strategies and resources other teachers shared with us, such as Pilar’s innovative use of radio technology to inspire kids to write, Harry’s cartoon-related activities, Jann’s postcards inspired by The Time Machine, Marisa’s concrete writing, Annette’s writing cards, Sandra’s movie-based vocabulary instruction, and of course, Sheri’s defense of grammar.

As a fellow grammarian, I appreciate Sheri’s attention to the conventions of language, and her insistence that teachers must master these conventions in order to both model and instruct their students properly. It behooves us teachers to be careful in our own use of language, and to have enthusiasm for the more ‘arid’ areas of language learning, such as vocabulary and grammar. If we teachers don’t evince joy in and enthusiasm for learning, how can we possibly expect our kids to be joyful, enthusiastic learners?

The truth is that we can’t.

We must work to transmit to students an honest appreciation for the complexities and the beauty of language that is anchored in a deep understanding of how that language works. Perhaps it is my experience with older students, including five years teaching undergraduates and my current position teaching eleventh and twelfth grade students, and conversely, my dearth of experience dealing with young students, that fuels my desire to make sure my students are both creative AND conversant in the rules of the English language. I want my students to let their creative juices flow as they write their novels, but I also want them to do well in the standardized tests that are required for college admission. It’s a delicate balance, but one I strive to achieve every single time I step into my classroom.

So, thank you, Prof. Monllor, Prof. Avilés, and fellow BWP participants, for reminding me of the myriad reasons I love teaching. And of course, for pushing me to start and keep a blog! I intend to continue blogging as way to continue growing, changing, and developing.

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One response to this post.

  1. You have the most beautiful parallel structure! Thank you for joining my quixotic battle to save good grammar.

    Reply

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