Your Voice

To say that my first week teaching Creative Writing to high school students was amazing would be a tremendous understatement!

But using the word “tremendous” would be a perfect start.

Our journey, this semester, will be under the direction of using Creative Writing to help students discover their voice and find ways to articulate what’s on their minds and in their hearts in the midst of the various injustices they find themselves in on a daily basis. Our curriculum, not only will help students find their creative voice, but will also foster better critical thinking skills as we dissect various Spoken Word pieces and classic poetry. The two combined will, ultimately, provide a basis for healthier navigation tools in the face of the “tremendous” challenges these students face in their communities.

From immigration issues to gang violence and from education to bullying, these students have already collectively voiced a tremendous excitement to develop a more healthier alternative to express themselves within the plights they find themselves in.

And, in an effort to better discover their voice, the students’ first writing assignment: Streams of Consciousness.

The students, each day, will begin with 15-minutes of “free flowing” writing. They’re not to think too much about their writing. They’re not to worry about grammar or spelling. They’re not to even think too much about their writing making any kind of sense. Streams of Consciousness writing is simply about allowing your thoughts to flow onto the paper.

When asked how their experience was, many of the students expressed a sense of freedom. They found that Streams of Consciousness was a lot easier than first anticipated. Many of the students didn’t realize they had a ton of ideas to write about.

They felt a sense of release!

Week one is in the books and I’m tremendously looking forward to the next thirteen.

Bearing Fruit

This year’s Youth Development Academy, created by Sharefest, is in full swing. We are entering day three of a month long journey to instill values into the next generation toward helping them discover how they can be agents of change in our world and our society. It has been an amazing couple of days thus far and I am truly looking forward to the rest of the summer.

I am back with the team after taking a five month hiatus and it has been exhilarating and rewarding. My involvement, of course, is teaching a creative writing class to middle school students. The goal of the class is to help students discover their voice in the midst of injustice through creative writing tools and leadership development. The process, however, and helping students find their voice isn’t always easy. In fact, you really never know if they are retaining the information and are embracing the journey. 

At times, even, it feels like the students could care less and you never really know if you are bearing fruit.

That’s until, of course, you have a conversation with a high school student who took the class five years ago as a middle school student and it changes your entire perspective

The student, after some friendly banter, wanted to confirm if indeed I was the creative writing teacher who taught the class five years ago. I confirmed said inquiry and she went on to tell me that it was because of the creative writing class that she took as a wee little middle schooler that she was inspired to start writing poetry.

FIVE YEARS!!!

It goes to show that you really never know who you are influencing in the moment. Our inspiration and encouragement goes a very long way. You may not see the fruit tomorrow or next week or next month, but as we plant seeds, we can rest easy knowing that the watering is happening, nutrients are being cultivated and the fruit is growing just waiting to blossom in its time.