Many years ago when I was teaching high school English in rural upstate South Carolina, I taught all three of the district’s superintendent’s children — two daughters and a son.
The older daughter in many ways represented both a uniquely smart and hard-working student and the paradox of the perfect student.
These were the early days of me learning how to teach writing well; these were the early days when I taught with a sort of earnest zeal that can never make up for the horrific blunders I imposed on several years of students.
Setting aside everything I did wrong — reminding us all that learning to write and learning how to teach writing are journeys — I was from the earliest days as a teacher firmly committed to students experiencing writer’s workshop and writing often, authentically, and with multiple drafts for each essay. …
In the pre-pandemic world that seems much further in the past than it is, I traveled from South Carolina to Milwaukee in February of 2020 to speak at the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) annual convention.
My public work had been dominated by refuting the “science of reading” movement for more than a year at that point — including having a book in press on the “science of reading” as another version of the Reading War — so I arrived in Milwaukee a bit apprehensive about how I would be received.
My session was well attended by an energetic crowd of teachers who seemed eager to engage in why the “science of reading” movement was misguided, but I also encountered another distinct frustration among teachers I had not anticipated. …
I had a dream last night, the kind of dream that jumbles your past and present in ways that make sense only in the dream.
The jumble in this dream was riding my recently purchased gravel bike from my former home (where I lived when I was about 10 until my early 20s) to the nearby club house of the rural golf course where that house sat, Three Pines Country Club.
In this dream, my mother, now deceased, met me at the club house after I pedaled up the long hill from that house to the club house, weaving between cars much more carelessly than I would in real life. …