Saturday 1 October 2011

Shaping Characters: A comparison of teaching and writing

After a month of nearly full-time teaching, I had a small epiphany.  I have been feeling quite fulfilled by my teaching job.  I had thought I would be pining to write as I worked on lesson plans and assessment.  I have had my moments -- when I finished a short story one weekend and all I wanted to do was to write ten more.  When I heard an author interviewed on the radio and wanted to get straight to work on my next novel.  However, I've found several similarities in my two careers which enable me to be content in either line of work.

In teaching, I get to create lessons.  I write them out, daydream about them and anticipate sharing them with my students.  This is very much like outlining a plot and dreaming about what is to come. 

Secondly, I am working with children, having a small hand in shaping their characters.  I get to interact with them and celebrate their learning and empathize with their frustrations.  While my fictional characters are fictional, I often feel like they are real.  I have even more say about how their characters will develop and I certainly feel their highs and lows.

Lastly, in both writing and teaching I get to share some of myself with others.  Although I write fiction, it is heavily laced with my own experiences.  Now that I have been publishing my writing, others are able to read about this and often respond to me about their own experiences in similar situations.  This is very satisfying.  In the classroom, I often share my own stories of learning and growing up.  My students share their own stories and we have another thread of connection.

And so, to those who say "Those who can not do, teach", I say "You are so wrong!"  Teaching is reciprocal and fulfilling if the teacher is willing to put his or her heart into the job.  It should be said that "Those who do, should teach!" 

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