Teaching community workshops

Two weekends ago I taught my second community workshop for Shape & Flow, a writing studio owned and operated by my dear friend, Kim Crum. I was nervous. This was a new venture in many ways for me. I am trained as a university writing instructor, with over 7 years of classroom experience, so I wasn't nervous about teaching or standing in front of a group. I've taught community workshops before, 2 for Arts and Healing/Hope Scarves/The Norton Foundation and another at Shape & Flow that I co-taught with David Domine, so I wasn't nervous about community participants and the structure of the class. This workshop was only 2 1/2 hours, so it wasn't a long commitment, unlike a semester of Composition 101. And I chose all of the material -- both what we would read together and the writing exercises. Aha, I think that's it! I was responsible for everything -- I came up with the topic (Imagery in Creative Nonfiction), found pertinent examples in contemporary literature, and asked the participants to write and really use what we discussed to create a short essay rich in imagery. If the students didn't understand the reading material or the assignments, if they left feeling less than satisfied with their writing, then it would all reflect on my teaching abilities. That is a bear of responsibility and I take that responsibility very seriously.

By the end of the workshop, I am pleased to share that not only were my students happy with what we discussed and surprised by what they had written, I was awash with emotion: happy that all 5 students were pleased, blown away by the powerful imagery my students created in a short half-hour of writing, and proud that with a little information and a few examples 5 women sat down to write a personal narrative feeling hesitant and nervous themselves and proved they had deep reservoirs of beautiful words. My students spun images of satin and African violets and bicycles tumbling down Italian lanes. Their writing was poignant and funny.

And just like that, 2 1/2 hours flew by.

Let's do this again! Soon.