Frightening Revelation from Teacher Trainer

Gargoyle

Subscribers to a monthly ezine I published* for teachers were invited to give some information anonymously about their teaching assignment and preparation for teaching nonfiction writing.  As I skimmed forms completed recently, one caught my attention.

The anonymous respondent, whom I’ll refer to by a feminine pronoun simply since most of my subscribers are female, said her first language is not English. That’s not typical of my subscribers, but it’s far from rare.

She also checked that she was “totally unprepared for teaching nonfiction writing,” and that she had taught writing for less than one year. Nothing unusual there. Most of my subscribers report less than adequate preparation,  though most have been teaching several years.

She indicated most of her students are between 18 and 24 years of age.  That’s not typical of my subscribers, but neither is it unusual.

What caught my eye was the subscriber’s job: “Supervise teachers/administer edu program”

That is more frightening than anything I saw on Halloween.

[* Writing Points ezine ceased publication in November 2013]

Challenges writing teachers face

Teachers who sign up for my monthly ezine are invited to complete a short survey about their teaching experience. The form gives them a place to add comments anonymously about whatever is on their minds.  Their comments provide a glimpse into the challenges of being a writing teacher. [The ezine is no longer published.]

Comments are from teachers around the world, not just the US, although American teachers tend to make the most comments.

Here are comments from October.

I came to teaching as a third career and earned alternate certification after teaching for three years. While my formal preparation to TEACH WRITING was less than average, I had multiple college and business opportunities in which to hone my own writing, and a voracious appetite to learn how to teach it. Save for high school and college instruction in English, all of my knowledge has been gained through self-study.  ~ from a private school teacher with  5-9 years’ experience teaching writing.

I teach special education resource students. Most of these 7th grade students read at a 3rd to 4th grade level. Some are reading at a second grade level. ~ from a public school teacher with 1-4 years’ experience teaching writing

I teach resource special ed students [ages 13-15] who have a 3-4 grade reading level. ~ from a public school teacher with 5-9 years’ experience teaching writing

Content specific strategies needed.  ~ from a public school teacher with less than 1 year’s experience teaching writing.

I’m under the STAAR testing and I was given this class a week before students walked in the door. I was told, “You’ll do a great job!” with nothing to go by and we are in the 9th week and I don’t feel that I’m doing any justice to the students.  ~ from a public school teacher with less than 1 year experience teaching writing.

I teach in a bilingual program (6, 7, and 8) graders Language Arts and Social Studies in a Title I district. Any help would be appreciated. ~ from a public school teacher with 1-4 years’ experience teaching writing

My classes are VERY small: 3-6 students each. I am a writer myself, but knowing how to write, and writing well, is very different than teaching writing! ~ from a private school teacher with less than 1 year’s experience teaching writing

With the common core standards I need to become a better teacher of writing so my students become better writers!~ from a public school teacher with 5-9 years’ experience teaching writing

With the Common Core and all it entails I am hoping for as much help in the area of writing for my students as possible. ~ from a public school teacher with 16 or more years’ experience teaching writing

I’ve shared other comments from teachers  earlier this year.

[link updated 3/11/2014. ]