I was determined to write down my thought on our class last night, before I forgot or left out details.
It was a good one, with lots of discussion. I spoke to them of iPods, iTunes, YouTube, Skype, and AWAD. It was an interesting time, as these are things unfamiliar to some.
I was speaking about what it means to me to volunteer in this capacity. Several things come to mind. Firstly, I can use 30 years of teaching skills, all accumulating towards a better understanding of the teaching process. Plus, I have learned lots about the learning process. I have been prompted to write with them. We do not write in a void, as amateur writers, and this promotes my thinking about writing.
Next, I do not have a boss to tell me how, when, what where to teach. We can create out own curriculum in a true constructivist fashion. I can change my lesson plan, as needs be, and listen to what they need.
We are learning more about ourselves as we write together. It is a thoughtful process. I am being more creative in all aspects of my life. I have had tons of courses and education, and I truly feel this knowledge and experience needs to be shared. There is wisdom in putting yourself out in front of a group.
The group dynamics are interesting, since participants come and go with parole, or short-term forays into the community. We are finding a shared sense of community, in which we are free to put our writing out to each other, without risk of put-downs. This kind of participation is important for a sense of security and well-being. In terms of writing we have each other's backs. All are positive and supportive of the writer and the writing process. Many amateur writers do not have this benefit. I have seen, first hand, the benefits of support groups in many aspects: caregivers, those with medical issues (MS, Alzheimer's, etc.) as well as our bereavement group for children, and there is strength and safety in numbers.
One thing I learned to use, is a 'talking stick'. On my trip walking through Wahta, I found a hawk feather(right), which I added to the item I bought at one of the stores. (See photo above!)
The way this works is that the speaker has the feather, I need not determine who will speak. The feather is passed from person to person. Those disinclined to read a story can quietly pass it on, others remind those talking that the speaker is the only one talking. It makes my role as facilitator easier. There is the expectation, and the prediction about when the feather will come to someone's hand, and rather than me 'picking on' someone to share, there is a certain amount of personal courage for those to speak. It really transforms the group. In fact, the metal parts at the bottom jingle, and when you want someone's attention, the speaker simply has to shake it and the bells ring! It was a powerful tool for me!
But, back to my other tools. I used the 'feelings' handout (top, right), as well as posters to remind participants that you need not and should not write with a dictionary beside you. It is a process best not hampered by monkey mind telling you your writing is less than perfect.
Welcome! Brought to you from S. E. Ontario, Canada!
Happy to have been a teacher.
In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. -Lee Iacocca, automobile executive (b. 1924)
"Ignorance is not knowing. Stupidity is the active pursuit of ignorance"
This blog is based on my 25 years as a teacher in Ottawa, and a couple of years with NNDSB. I have time to reflect and put my experiences and opinions out there for others. Teaching is a collective experience, best shared. Visit my resume for more about my teaching background and credentials.