How To Teach Writing

Posted by admin on January 4, 2008 in Uncategorized |

Do you want to teach writing but lack the credentials which schools and colleges require? If you have ample writing experience and you’re willing to work with students of varying ages and skill levels, you can teach writing in many settings, even if you don’t have a degree in education or writing. Here’s how you can get started:

1) Teach writing:  Offer a free writing workshop in your community.
If you’re truly motivated to teach writing, you’ll do it for free, right? Don’t worry, you won’t have to teach writing gratis forever! This was how I began to teach writing: I learned by doing. 
If you offer a free workshop, potential students are far less likely to care about whether you’re published or hold a degree in writing. Youíll attract people who might be unable to afford hefty class fees but are eager to participate in a class, something you can feel good about. And because you’re not looking for a profit, you’ll have an easier time finding available space, such as bookstores and public libraries. 
Offering a free workshop is a way to begin teach writing in a low-pressure situation. You donít have to worry about being “hired” to teach writing or fret about whether your students are getting their money’s worth. Youíll develop teaching skills while providing a valuable service to your community. 

2) Teach writing:  Tutor middle- and high-school students.
You don’t necessarily need a specialized degree to teach writing to kids. You do need a solid knowledge of grammar and basic academic writing, and the patience to work with preteens and teens. Volunteer as a tutor through a community-based program; contact your local United Way chapter for information. You can also work for pay through a private tutoring service, as I did for a number of years. Again, it’s learning to teach writing by taking a leap of faith and doing it.Working one-on-one with kids is a special experience that brings its own challenges and rewards. You’ll teach writing to students of all levels, from kids who have trouble writing a simple sentence to high achievers polishing their college application essays. If you successfully teach writing to kids, you’ll help them develop skills they’ll use all their lives, and you’ll develop your own confidence as a teacher.

3) Teach writing:  Offer a range of services for writers.
If you already have some teaching experience under your belt, you may be ready to start your own writing business. After teaching a free workshop and tutoring high-school students, I began to teach writing privately. I held small writing workshops in my home; I also provided manuscript editing and critique for people who didn’t want to participate in a group setting. Within two years, I launched a website to reach clients beyond my local area, and I now work with writers from around the country.
Workshops, manuscript critique, online mentoring, these are all ways to teach writing. If youíre just starting out, decide which genre or type of writing you know best and specialize in classes and services which focus on that area. If you offer everything from short-story critiques to PhD thesis consultation, potential clients and students will wonder whether you really know enough about so many different subjects, and they may not trust you to help them with their specific projects. 
However, you don’t need to confine yourself to one area forever. As you continue to teach writing, you should continue to expand your own body of knowledge. Eventually, your “specialty” will become “specialties,” and youíll be confident enough to teach writing of various types to a broader range of people.

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