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The following are personal responses to the class exercise, Who am I? A Writer! 

Teacher's Response

How often do I write?

I write nearly every day. I write emails, often. Also, I plan my classes and write many kinds of worksheets. In addition, I do all the necessary writing on the Web site for the PALC. In my writing/composition classes, I write paragraphs and essays, and also write answers to questions for my students to study. One other interesting form of writing I practice is poetry. Recently, I wrote a poem to honour my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

What are my writing strengths?

One of the strengths I have as a writer is my quickness of mind and of keyboarding speed, too! It is easy for me to formulate a paragraph and to make it hang together with a proper topic sentence and concluding sentence. Even essays give me little trouble, especially ones on general topics.

What are my writing weaknesses?

My key weakness in writing is similar to that of my key weakness in teaching: wordiness. When I revise, I find that I can "tighten" my writing a great deal. About two years ago, I had a piece published in The Globe and Mail (on the death of a good friend); in her edited version she "saved" about 50 words from my original 750, without altering my meaning. An additional weakness I have is procrastination. I've wanted to try to publish another essay in the newspaper and have considered a number of interesting topics. Unfortunately, I have been too lazy to get started!

What kind of writing do I like to do?

I love to write and any kind will do. Poetry is one of my favourite kinds of writing. Often, the poem comes to me all of a piece. The hard part, of course, is the revision, which, in the case of the poem for my parents, took about three months to complete. Essay and school writing, especially in creating samples for my students, is another favourite of mine.

What kind of writing do I dislike doing?

I dislike any writing task that involves a conflict. Letters of complaint or things like that are not easy and so I don't like to do such writing. My wife will help me to edit this kind of writing since I am sometimes a bit too "sharp" in my comments and need to take a gentler approach.

How was I taught writing in the past?

Perhaps I was taught more similarly to the way I teach you now in my most recent and most influential course on writing. About seven years ago, I had the good fortune to take a "Teaching Writing" course for teachers at Simon Fraser University. In this course, I was taught that a teacher needs to be a fellow writer, and that he or she must always do the assignments along with the students. No teacher, in my professor's opinion, should ever assign work he or she hasn't tried! You will thus find me modelling writing and demonstrating good writing practice as much as possible in this class.

In earlier years, I remember most fondly teachers who gave interesting topics and most importantly, encouragement to me as a writer. Once, a teacher stopped me in the hallway (in seventh grade) and made a favourable comment on writing I had done for another teacher. I have never forgotten that!



 (September 9, 2002)