Tiny Teaching Stories: Class as People

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Today's Tiny Teaching Story is by Xinqiang Li, a writing instructor at Michigan State University.

Class as People

It’s the students who have inspired me to bring out the best in my teaching. Their eager questions, timely submissions, and even the smiley faces at the end of their emails remove my nervousness and tiredness at the beginning of the semester.

They remind me to teach the class as people.

Gradually, I’ve learned to imagine the class as a tea house conversation. I step off the platform, walk among the students, and change the sentence “Writing is an epistemic and recursive process” into “How many drafts do you usually write?”

Then, I see eyes light up in the class.

Submit your own Tiny Teaching Story to tinyteachingstories@macmillan.com! See the Tiny Teaching Stories Launch for submission details and guidelines.

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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.