How to Be “Good”…

Luckily, my job lends itself well to my goal of becoming a writer. I started to ponder (and write actually) about what it means to be a writer. If I want it to be something I am, shouldn’t I know what it “looks” like?

I didn’t always consider myself a runner, but I wanted to have that title. It wasn’t until I began training for my first half marathon that I felt I was a runner. I read somewhere that you should have a password (to your email possibly) that relates to what you want to be. Think of how many times you type in a password? With every log in, you reinforce this goal. Give it a shot! Plus, isn’t it about time you changed one of your passwords?

(My sister and I before a small 5k this past summer – two months after my first half.)

In terms of being a writer, do I need to write a book or be published in a magazine or journal to truly consider myself a writer? Or maybe if my blog ever develops more of an audience, that would work. Or maybe, just like with becoming a runner, it will just happen.

For now, I’ve learned that the best way to improve as a writer is to emulate other authors. I teach a writing intensive semester-long course to sophomores, and my goal is for them to see themselves as writers (just like I am!). Last week, our class read a piece by Rick Reilly titled “Weighed down by too much cash? Don’t worry, I’m here to help.” Reilly lays the sarcasm on thick, and my sophomores pick up on it immediately. The piece is humorous, light, but obviously has almost sad undertones (the opening statistic is ridiculous!). To mimic this piece, all students wrote a “How to be a ‘Good’ ______________” that included ten rules. Just like Reilly’s piece, the rules are terrible and are the exact opposite of what you really should do as a student, employee, doctor, girlfriend, etc. I wrote mine about how to be a “good” teacher. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1) Always be right

Admitting that you are wrong or that you don’t know the answer? Never! Even if you do not know the answer, make it up. Providing incorrect information is much better than admitting you don’t know something. As the teacher, you are the one who knows everything, and it would show weakness to confess to a hole in your ultimate source of knowledge.

5) Only give multiple choice bubble tests

Papers, projects, creative assignments? Who needs them! The best and only way for students to show you what they know is by taking a multiple choice test. If students do poorly, that is even more of a reason to continue giving them; they obviously need more practice – duh! Plus, they can be run through the machine and scored in a few minutes.

6) Believe that “the best three months of the school year are June, July, and August”

You went into teaching because of the summers off, right? Make this known to colleagues, parents, and especially students. You only work three-fourths of the school year – what a sweet gig! It’s not like you do anything school-related over the summer, so it really is three months of vacation.

8) Talk and talk and talk

You began teaching because you love to talk, namely about your content area. You know so much about it and the quickest way to dispense all of your boundless knowledge is to lecture. While lecturing, stand behind a podium and do not move around. Students have a difficult time adjusting if you change locations, and they may stop paying attention to the fascinating information coming out of your mouth. Also, for this exact same reason, speak in a monotone voice. Kids can’t get enough of this stuff!

This would be fun to do for other titles. For example, if we did “How to be a ‘Good’ Gym Member”…
1) Sweat all over the machines and don’t clean it up
2) Talk loudly on your cell phone while on cardio equipment
3) Pass gas often during group classes

Would you be able to add another rule to this list?
Provide your own rule to be a “good” ___________.


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