[NCTE-TALK:2291] Re: should writing teachers write?

Julia L. Shields (jshields@pen.k12.va.us)
Sat, 13 Jan 1996 00:27:14 -0600

Maybe because it's after midnight, and I still haven't
finished grading the papers that I set as my goal today, and I
still have three exams to finish - after a week of snow days -
maybe it's all that, but I find myself really frustrated by all
the fine-sounding talk of the virtues of writing. Geez, don't
we all agree that writing is a good thing? As far as I know,
nobody's questioning its value. It's just a question of where
it fits with a lot of other activities that we or our bosses
think are of great value, too.
I happen to think it's a waste of my time to have to
send letters to parents after their child has missed sven days,
ten days, sixteen days, and twenty days of school and then
periodic follow-ups thereafter. It apparently is a waste of
time to turn kids in (with a form in triplicate to be filled
out) for tardies, since we are all filling out dozens of these
referrals each day without let-up.
On an average day I probably have five or six special
requests for reports or assignments from resource teachers,
in-school suspension, homeboud teachers, etc. I had nineteen
requests the day before winter break. Then I have all
the aforementioned referrals. With three preps, two of which
are new, I do need to spend some time preparing for class. Two
days a week I don't get a planning period, but teach straight
through the day and work with kids at lunch and after school.
In a class of well behaved achievers, writing in class
is certainly an option; I've done it often. But in classes of
needy kids who resist almost everything associated with school,
it is rarely possible.
Again, my wish is that all of those who write with such
fervor about the virtues of writing will think about the
audience that needs to hear that message. Unless, of course,
you're volunteering to take over some duties while I write...

Julia Shields
Charlottesville, VA