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Teaching Writing – Be Prepared

If teaching writing to adult learners is something that you are seriously considering, it’s important to make the transition to teacher as easy as possible by being fully prepared before the start of the lesson.

I have taught all types of writing to adult learners at college level for many years and even if you are a confident teacher and know your subject inside out, don’t ever wing it because there will be someone who will test your professionalism to the limit. Teaching itself is not difficult if you have students who are keen, enthusiastic and willing to learn but human nature being what it is, you can bet that you will have at least one difficult student in your class at some point.

In all those years of teaching at college, I have met some wonderful students who embrace the written word and who desperately want to see their way into print. They will follow your lead as the ‘expert’ with complete confidence and faith and they are a pleasure to teach. Then you will have those who feel they are further advanced than the others and this can be unsettling for the group as a whole.

Difficult students can drastically impact an otherwise solid class and even if their intentions are well-meaning, it can be difficult to handle someone who struggles to fit in with a group or who feels that they need different training material than the others. My advice if this happens is to keep your composure and your sense of professionalism- even if this is difficult at the time and have alternative material ready just in case.

I always hated writing lesson plans but even after I finished my teacher training course, I still continued producing them because they really do form the basic foundations of your lesson and it is good to be able to refer to them if necessary, especially to check your timings. Providing alternate material, can slot into a lesson plan quite well, especially if you really are teaching a mixed ability group. On occasion I have had to amalgamate a beginners class with an intermediate class and this calls for some serious planning.

Once you get to know your students really well, you can develop a more flexible and intuitive approach but initially, have plenty of extra writing projects with you just in case and this will give you peace of mind and some additional confidence.

Teaching writing to others who share the publication dream is so rewarding and it’s easy to develop a sense of pride in your students development- just be prepared for the unexpected and then nothing will go wrong.

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