I never wanted to teach a creative writing class.
When my principal told me I’d be teaching two sections of Creative Writing, I was secretly horrified. All I could imagine was the mountain of work to grade, the new material to create, and my biggest fear–overly emo poetry.
Now that my first Creative Writing class is coming to a close, I find myself dreading the end. My Creative Writing class has become my favorite class of the day–something that completely shocks me. Here is why you, too, should consider overcoming any fears or hesitance, and jump right in to teaching a creative writing class of your very own.
The perks of teaching a creative writing class surprised me.
1. No One Cares What You Do
Ok, this sounds bad. Your school may be different, but my Creative Writing course is an elective credit, not an English one. I’ve noticed that no one really pays attention to this class. There are no district mandates, no required curriculum, no special administration evaluations.
I have complete freedom.
If I want to play word games one day and then spend the next devoted to complex comma rules, I can. (I have done neither of these in creative writing, but no one’s stopping me). If I don’t feel like rolling out a whole new lesson, or my students are struggling with a writing project, I can take the extra time without feeling guilty for not steamrolling through content. Sometimes I ask my students what they want to do or what they need help with and then we do that–instant differentiation.
Aside from the curricular freedom, the teacher-student relationships are another huge benefit. Getting to see a student’s creative side is a privilege–and they get to see yours. Creative Writing allows you to see a whole different side to your students.
I have a student who is in both my English and Creative Writing courses. In English, he’s quiet, diligent, and frequently uses run-on sentences. In Creative Writing, however, he doesn’t just do the work–he creates his own passion projects, taking time to write romantic love poems to his girlfriend, or trying to find the words to explain what it’s like living with bipolar disorder. Without his poetry, I wouldn’t know about his passions or internal struggles.
The amount of time put aside to be creative also means more time to just talk to students about their interest. I find myself embracing my silly side (not something I’m known for) as the students and I grasp together for just the right descriptions Every time my students write, I learn–about their devotion to their mothers, their love for all things creepy, or even the fact that they’d rather be playing basketball.
3. You Can Actually Have Fun!
I find myself smiling a lot more in my Creative Writing class than any other. Those relationships are a big reason why, but we also don’t have to take ourselves quite so seriously. Creative Writing is just playing with language.
There is a day where we eat candy and write flowery descriptions about the taste and appearance of each. When students struggle for ideas, I like to make up outlandish and ridiculous plots with them. During our week of blackout and found poetry, I also get to sit and art and craft words together with them.
After our journaling session every day, we share out. I get to ask questions and pose add-on ideas. We laugh a lot. I develop inside jokes with students I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise. And if the students don’t work? If they don’t get it done? I have the time to talk to them: I can ask them why without feeling like the whole world will come to an end if we don’t finish the comma packet that hour. I can just sit and talk with a student who’s having a bad day, and we can make a plan together to succeed tomorrow.
With Creative Writing, if everyone is enjoying an activity, we can do it all week. We can write odes all week if they’re enjoying it. If my mini-lesson is flopping, I can summarize the main idea and let them get back to writing–that’s where the magic is, after all. When they write, I can write.
I was afraid to teach this class.
I was afraid of the workload and disengaged students. However, I’m ending the class having enjoyed myself, with deeper student relationships, and with a little bit of new writing myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any writing just for the joy of it. How about you?
Do you have some reservations about teaching a Creative Writing class? Tell me all about it in the comments!