Powerful words


Reading and writing are a big part of my life. As an English teacher, I spend my days (well, 2/7!) teaching teenagers the skills for understanding and analysing texts and using words to suit the purpose of their writing and effect their readers in certain ways. And I hoped that with it I would share a love of language and help them to see just how powerful words can be. But I have clearly got it very wrong!

Writing here the last two days I have realised just how much I love to do it. Truly love it. It makes me come alive inside and I am learning more and more about myself with every word I type. I have barely stopped thinking about it. I love the release. I love the escape. I love the self indulgence. I love breaking the rules. I love sticking to them. I love the responses. I love the black and white certainly of my posts and being able to have the last word. Every time I put virtual pen to virtual paper I realise I love doing it just a little bit more.

And I realise now why nothing I do in my lessons ever makes my students feel this way.

I tell them what to read. I tell them what I want them to write about it. I give them topics. And titles. I tell them how long to write for. I give them the rules for success (and, in turn, failure) and spend countless hours telling them how to make their writing better in my detailed marking. And yes, I am familiar with a whole range of strategies for how I should be engaging and enthusing students in my classes and use them at every available opportunity. I would ever consider that one of my strengths!

But it is never like this.

At school I was always aware of my own poor spelling. It never really held me back but even today I am overly conscious of it. It made me cautious and scared and even today it is one of the first things I share with my classes; I hate writing on the whiteboard as a direct result because I just know I will spell something wrong. Now, I am good at English but imagine if I wasn’t. How hard must it be to try something new if all the rules are telling you that you will get it wrong?

But here it is different. Here the words are free. I write what I want. I write for who I want. I write about what I want. No one knows the rules so no one can judge me against them. I decide.

I want my students to feel the way I feel when I write this; powerful.

Maybe words are just the beginning. Maybe they are becoming my own keys to open the locks, to break the rules and make the changes to become how I want to be.