I work as a supervising teacher for an online middle school/high school. Last Friday was the end of the first term, this Monday the beginning of the second. In preparation for the new term, I wanted my students to spend some time reflecting on their performance.
I sent them a few open-ended questions and asked them to respond via email. The questions I asked elicited some interesting and heartfelt responses that got me to thinking about my own performance--as a writer.
Procrastination was seen as a "BIG-TIME" enemy of successful performance. Those students will stop procrastinating, they say. ("I am a pretty bad procrastinator when it comes to assignments I don't want to do or I find boring," one student said. Sound familiar? Cover letters, perhaps, or researching agents and editors? When will I stop procrastinating?)
Others whose performance was disappointing to themselves resolved to be more focused and do their work more carefully. (These kids are smart cookies! Good advice for me, too, maybe?)
Some students who were pleased with their performance said the most important thing they learned was to ask for help when they didn't understand something. I like that for me as well--there is SO much writing/promoting/marketing help available online, or from critique partners, or in writing workshops, classes and conferences. Do I ask for help when I need it?
Exercise: Take a little time to reflect on your performance as a writer in the last six months. If it helps, ask yourself the questions I asked my students, tweaked a bit to make them relevant to writers:
1) Are you pleased with your performance in the last six months?
2) In regards to your writing career, what worked well for you? What will you continue doing the same as you move forward?
3) What, if anything, did NOT work well for you? Is there anything you think you need to change in your approach to your writing career to improve your performance in the next six months?
My goal when I reflect on these questions again six months down the road is to be able to say along with one of my very special students:
"I'm definitely pleased with my performance and look forward to working just as hard for as long as I can. Balancing my schedule properly really worked well for me. Putting in as much effort as I can helps me a lot and keeps me motivated. I only plan on doing the best I can; school [insert WRITING!] is very important. I'm really trying to improve and get a better understanding of things. Help from many different sources has aided me in this endeavor. This is an exciting time."
I've always said the best thing about being a teacher is what I learn from my students. May we all be able to reflect on our writing endeavors in as positive a light as this student did the next time we reflect.