Embrace the Journey, Question, Believe in You

All, Teaching

I usually wrap up every semester by requiring my students to reflect on the class, their work, and what they learned. This semester I included a letter with the reflection prompt. Below is the prompt for my first- and second-year writing students.

Dear Writing Students,

As our time together draws to an end, I want to celebrate everything we have accomplished this semester – especially the ways you have helped each other grow as writers and thinkers. I am very proud of the work you have done and the community we have built. I hope you are taking away many lessons from this experience – both those that I taught you as well as those we learned together. However, there are some key lessons that I hope you will carry forward throughout college and beyond.

Perhaps the most essential lesson I hope you will have learned is to embrace the process. Obviously, the end result matters, but I hope that you now understand how the process can be fun and rewarding if you focus on the journey rather than the end result. Furthermore, I hope you see how working through the steps of feeding your brain, writing and talking it out, and then refining your final product is so much less stressful and so much more powerful.

In addition, I hope you have learned to question and challenge as well as peel back the layers to dig deeper into texts and ideas, both those presented to you by others as well as your own work. I hope you will always seek to find more meaning, to go beyond the surface, in your future literacy experiences both in college and out.

Finally, I hope, more than anything, that you have learned to love writing – just a little – and that you believe in yourself as a writer and thinker just a little more than you did before we began our work together. Your unique ideas deserve to be shared to inspire others. Your voice needs to be heard. I believe in you, your classmates believe in you, and you should believe in you, too.

What do you hope your students will take away from your classroom? What do you ask them to reflect on at the end of a class? Do you ask your students to share their insights on future class design? 

Artwork by Mark J. Sebastian on Flickr

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