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August Chien

Dr. Cook

ENG 3580

May 9th, 2016

Daybook Reflective Essay

In this essay I will reflect on what I have learned about myself, as a writer and a future

teacher of writing, in English 3580: Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy in the Teaching of Writing. I

will reflect on what I have learned about the assessment and grading of compositions, what I

have learned about myself as a writer and future educator, and my greatest strengths and

weaknesses in both my writing and my teaching.

The main thing I have learned about being a writer in this class is the importance of

writing in everyday life. I couldn't imagine not being able to express my ideas and thoughts in a

succinct and potent written statement. This ability is so crucial in the modern world we live in

where so much is communicated through writing. As a writer and a future teacher of writing this

realization, which I learned from this class, is monumental. I approach both my teaching and my

writing from this perspective. This is evident in my daybook and the various in-class writing

assignments we did in it, each assignment is littered with corrections and changes. These

changes, on small informal assignments may seem insignificant but they represent my attempt to

continuously improve the message and construction of my writing. A misplaced comma or a

sentence fragment is not just a simple grammatical error, it hurts the writers ability to clearly

convey their ideas and thoughts through writing. This perspective motivates me and hopefully

will motivate my students to improve their writing. My students will be keenly aware, as I am,

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that little errors like where a comma should go matter, because these errors obscure the

incredible ideas they have.

This class was my first 3000 level teaching class and was the first time that I have

directly learned about the nuts and bolts of teaching. My approach to assessment before this class

was nonexistent. When an idea for a lesson or assignment popped into my head, how I would

grade or evaluate it didn’t even occur to me. Thanks to what I’ve learned in this class my

approach to assessment has become much more concrete. The first step in my approach is

explicitly explaining to the class the requirements, page count etc, of the assignment and what I

am looking for, i.e. a clear connection between ideas or concepts, in the assignment. These

requirements and goals would be discussed in class and would be on a handout that also has the

rubric on it. I want to communicate the expectations for the assignment in as many ways as

possible so my students will know exactly what I expect. If students dont know exactly what is

expected of them how are they supposed to satisfy these expectations? My daily realizations

about assessment and evaluation are evident in my day book, on one day I wrote “clear rubrics

help you fairly grade subjective writing, duh”. My approach to assessment was directly shaped

when the thorny issue of fairly grading the subjective aspects of writing was brought up in class.

I believe that the language of the rubric must be as precise and objective as possible. Students

need to know explicitly how to convey their ideas in an assignment and how their efforts to

convey said idea will be measured and graded. This means less “argued a claim effectively” and

more “argued their claim using 3 or more specific supporting statements”. In summation, my

approach to assessment emphasizes concrete and quantifiable goals/requirements for an

assignment explicitly stated and explained to the class through clear rubrics and prompts. This

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focus and emphasis stems directly from what I learned from this class.

My greatest strength as a writer and a teacher of writing is the unique perspective I bring

to the classroom. A combination of ADHD, awful handwriting, and a general indifference

towards school fostered in me a resentment of writing. I would write as quickly and as badly as

possible just so I could go back to playing or reading. My written work was grammatically

abysmal and unreadable. Eventually as I grew up and began writing essays on computers my

views on writing completely changed. Thanks to the wonders of spell check and Times New

Roman I fell in love with writing. The confidence I felt when I used my vocabulary, a product of

my voracious reading, to convey and argue my ideas was incredible and still inspires me as a

writer. This perspective, of someone who has hated writing but come to love it, is I believe my

greatest strength. It allows me to empathize with my friends as they struggle through Gen-Ed

essays and it will allow me to empathize with my future students who struggle with writing.

Throughout the class discussion on how to engage students and change their negative

preconceptions about writing, I was stuck by and commented in my daybook about my

classmates inability to understand why students hated writing. I know the crushing feeling of

having your ideas and grades stifled by poor writing skills, which is made painfully evident when

your hand written assignment is returned with “great ideas, work on grammar” written on it. My

checkered history with writing and the perspective it has given me is something that many of my

peers lack. Hopefully it will help me better teach writing to struggling students and help me

express to them the power and potential of writing. My early disdain for writing has afforded me

a unique perspective but has also resulted in my continuing struggle with grammar. This

continuing struggle is my greatest weakness as a writer and a future writing teacher. The

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intricacies of grammar I should have mastered in K-12 still plague me. I dread the day a student

finds a glaring grammatical error in my handout or when I miss a mistake in their work.

Through this class I have learned the importance of explicit and quantifiable assessment.

I have also learned that my love/hate history with writing grants me a unique perspective; this

perspective, a product of my past struggles with writing, is my greatest strength as a writer and a

writing teacher. My past struggles with writing also created my greatest weakness as a writer and

a teacher, my lackluster grammar. As a writer, this class has reinforced my belief in the power of

writing to convey and express ideas; it is this awesome power that makes writing such a vital

skill and the teaching of writing such a vital task.