Chuck Brooks' column: Teacher becomes the student
Well, well, well. Here we are. A landmark edition for this column. With this specific edition of the weekly read, I mark the end of the first year of "The View From My Room." In all thus far, I've written, including this one, 50. The other reason this is a momentous week ... the party is officially over. Come Monday morning, the alarm clock will ring, and I'll drag myself over to the clock to turn it off.
And the cycle of life will continue on its merry way.
I don't know if you'll understand what I'm about to say, but if you've trusted me up until now, then just continue to believe these emotions and thoughts.
Since I've been writing again, I believe I'm a better writing teacher. Forget that, years ago, I had the basic training in teaching students to write. Forget that I've been to more writing workshops and conferences over time than I can even begin to count. Forget that I've evaluated over 60,000 student products. And forget that I've been doing this for 31 years. I am now doing what I ask my students to do when they write. I hope that gives me more credibility as a writing teacher.
Each and every column I write gets close scrutiny from me once I've written my initial draft. I have to keep my weekly thoughts for you at a two-page, word processed, double-spaced maximum. That's not always as easy as it might sound. Initially, I do not pass judgment on my thoughts. I merely write. The self-criticism comes soon enough. I generally land on a third page, which never makes me happy; I know I am going to have to edit out some of my thoughts. Or, I need to come up with a way to say what I want to say in a more efficient fashion.
I revise and revise and revise again. I hold myself to high standards, as I do my students. Last year, my students probably tired of the phrase, "When I write my column..." but I try to communicate something to them that is as relevant for me as I feel it is for them. I also believe having my students see me writing and listening to what I encounter while writing makes the experience they are going to have to "suffer" through a tad more realistic and meaningful. Successful or not, I will continue to tell them I am simply asking nothing more of them than I ask of myself. I hope that carries some weight with them.
Writing is a personal act, regardless of what is put on paper. Something about the act of words connecting with a blank page makes the final product something vulnerable and delicate. If you write anything with any genuine effort, you're likely to guard yourself heavily if you should share it with a friend for input. My final draft always has my friend/colleague's final stamp of approval.
Years ago, I wrote a column for a different papers for 10 years. Then it simply waned. I am not sure why that happened; however, I'm so glad to have once again been allowed to write for you. Writing this each week is fun, albeit challenging. I am grateful to all of you who continue to enjoy the ride.
Ready for Year Two? Next week, the adventure continues.