Tiny Teaching Stories: A Sudden & Public Classroom Meltdown

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Today's Tiny Teaching Story is by Jeffrey L. Jackson, a writing instructor at SUNY Cortland.

"Tell us what you're feeling," a student asked me. She was the only one willing to speak. The rest of the class sat in silence as I cried in front of them. The video clip of a little boy calling his father a liar left me defenseless. The father fought to protect his son from financial hardship. The boy saw through the lies and reminded me of my own struggles as a young parent years before. I shared that with my class and realized for the first time, I had completely let my guard down in front of my students.

About the Author
Nancy Sommers, who has taught composition and directed writing programs for more than thirty years, now teaches in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. A two-time Braddock Award winner, Sommers is well known for her research and publications on student writing. Her articles “Revision Strategies of Student and Experienced Writers” and “Responding to Student Writing” are two of the most widely read and anthologized articles in the field of composition. She has also created three films—Shaped by Writing, Across the Drafts, and Beyond the Red Ink—to bring the voices of student writers into a larger discussion about writing instruction. Nancy Sommers is currently the coauthor of Diana Hacker’s best-selling handbooks: The Bedford Handbook, A Writer’s Reference, Rules for Writers, A Pocket Style Manual, and Writer’s Help (see hackerhandbooks.com). Her newest instructor resource, Responding to Student Writers, offers a model for thinking about response as a dialogue between students and teachers.