Tiny Teaching Stories: Unknown Impacts - Be Kind

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nancy_sommers_0-1639421052743.pngToday's Tiny Teaching Story is by John Hansen. John Hansen received a BA in English from the University of Iowa and an MA in English literature from Oklahoma State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Summerset Review, One Sentence Poems, The Dillydoun Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Eunoia Review, Litro Magazine, Wild Roof Journal, The Banyan Review, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. He has presented on a variety of topics at The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC—Regional), The American Comparative Literature Association, The Midwest Conference on British Studies, and others. He is an English Department faculty member at Mohave Community College in Arizona. Read more at johnphansen.com.


Unknown Impacts: Be Kind

Early in the Fall 2020 semester, I sent e-mails to several students who stopped participating in our developmental English course. Ben responded two days later apologizing. Hours later, I answered the phone - it was Ben. Small talk quickly turned to him revealing a recent divorce, eviction, and layoff (due to COVID-19). I chatted with Ben weekly. He became one of the better writers in class. Days before the semester ended, Ben sent an e-mail about how he would have ended his life if he didn't have someone to talk with that day. I've reflected on this and Ben every semester.


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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.