"You need to love words," says Nick Ripatrazone, a writer and high school English teacher. "You don’t need to love a certain type of book or a particular writer, but you need to love letters and phrases and the possibilities of language."
With 55 Thoughts for English Teachers, Ripatrazone offers wise advice. I'm not a high school teacher, but I do lead after-school writing programs and workshops for teens and adults, and robustly applaud Ripatrazone's "thoughts."
It's a good, long list. Here are some of my favorites:
• Students can sense a lot of things.
• Speaking of poetry: they will hate the idea of it, but they already love and live the soul of it. Condensed narratives and emotions tucked in abstractions? Those are their existences.
• Write. Talk about your writing. Show them your drafts, your edits. Write along with them.
• Students want to know about you. Sometimes their personal questions are a clever distraction. Be more mystery than memoir, but never be cold.
• You may be the only person who will ever read their sonnets, or their prose poems, or their dystopian novellas. Don’t take that privilege lightly.
• Read aloud. Every day.
• For some students, you are their only light.
Doesn't that last one just say it? Read the entire piece, published at The Millions, here.
What's your favorite advice? Is there anything you'd add?