|A mixed post: Writing and Teaching|
First, a recap: My main lament in the BAD post referred to the marking (aka grading) aspect. Writers need to pay attention to detail. They also need to justify why certain events occur, to avoid ending up with a character at the mercy of the plot, or a "deus ex machina" ending. And this kind of careful consideration is GREAT... if you're a tutor.
If you have 30 tests to slam through, at four pages each, spending a mere 5 minutes per page means (30x4x5) 600 minutes, or 10 HOURS. Picture getting home from work and then spending 2 hours a night, every night, for the week. Oh right, that's just one class of three! NOT SUSTAINABLE.
Except that's what I do. Because I feel the need to justify the reasoning of the student, before assigning the 72% versus 75%. It's torture, but trying to turn off that aspect of myself is SO HARD. Perhaps I'm getting better at it though.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Sonal Champsee commented on that previous post, talking about trusting your instincts. That, I think, is what it comes down to, and Scott Delahunt's thought on the same post offered a way of building up that self trust. There are (naturally) two immediate problems with the whole idea.
1) It requires time. Teachers new to the profession, and for that matter older teachers new to this style of marking, need time to build up their experience, in order to gain confidence. NOT Professional Development, which saps time while providing little experience. I find it ironic that teachers are told "Diversity is Important! All People Learn Differently!" ... "Here's an Hour Lecture on how ALL OF YOU can implement diversity." (It's okay, if you don't understand the lecture, they'll repeat it ad nauseum...)
2) It requires feedback. I'm fortunate enough to work with colleagues who provide it - because on the student side, you'll tend to hear nothing (so I guess I'm doing it right?), or something negative ("why did I lose 5% here?!"). Notice this is EXACTLY like writing: You post up a piece of fiction and get no comments, or someone saying you made some spelling errors. Thanks, uh, so what about the characterization...??
The upshot then (in theory) is that the grading problem can be solved by doing a lot of it, and assuming that you're doing it right unless you're told otherwise. Except there isn't time for the former, and the latter can be hard for me personally to accept. It might be because I'm effectively my own editor for my writing, so I KNOW there are times I don't get it quite right. It might be a general lack of confidence in myself, on account of my habit of making unfair comparisons to others. It might be something else entirely.
Still, that is only one aspect of the job. I didn't include delivery of curriculum in the prior post for a reason.
CURRICULUM IS WRITING
As a teacher, every day you're writing, then delivering another short story. (More than one story in a day, in fact.) There are actually tons of posts out there comparing teaching to storytelling. The "Three Act" lesson model (Entry, Analysis, Answer/Sequel) is also a form of this, arcing over multiple days - though in a sense, the tale ALWAYS arcs. All the lessons (chapters) need to tie into the unit (book) to make a course (series) making for a complete volume of work. Which then invites fanfiction, maybe.
The beauty of it is that different teachers will have different styles of presenting, and different students will pick up on different aspects of the plot. So one story can end up being seen in multiple ways. Notice that, just because you might know the conclusion in advance, doesn't mean that the path to get to it is as clear. (Think "Columbo".) There's an element of choose your own adventure within every single math problem, as well as over an entire course. Certain people will also prefer different story genres, and as the teacher you have to try to appeal to all of them at once.
If that sounds hard, it is, but those two problems from above? Not problems here. You're in the class every day, and usually the feedback is both clear and immediate. In fact, depending on the audience (class), the narrative can even be adjusted as you go, to follow one group of characters (functions?) over another. Little edits and rewrites as you go can make the story better.
Consider also, as a writer, there are times when a character will do or say something unexpected. Perhaps it even changes the climax of your story on you. What to do? Well, you run with it, you adapt, the same way a student question can completely change the landscape of your lesson plan. To do otherwise would be to deny the character their autonomy. Again, it doesn't mean you can't reach the same conclusion in the end - you're a writer, you'll figure it out.
MORE WRITING SKILLS
Observation. As a writer, you need to see what's going on in the world, to get ideas for your writing. Could be for characters, for plot, what have you. As a teacher, you need to see what's going on in the classroom, to know what students are understanding, what students are not understanding, and what students are using their cell phones.
Communication. As a writer, you need to clearly express what you mean in your writing, so that readers can follow it. You also need to know when to repeat things that might have been forgotten, and when to assume the reader knows what's going on. Finally, you also need to be able to express your intentions to editors. For teacher, replace "writing" with "teaching", "readers" with "students", and "editors" with "parents".
Researching. As a writer, you need to make sure you know what you're talking about, in terms of geography, professions, races... even in fiction, which vampire traits will you use, which will you ignore, and why? As a teacher, same thing, you need to understand the material - and even if it's an extension beyond your expertise, hopefully you can offer up a website to those students who do want more information.
Perseverance. As a writer, you need to keep at it, even if you're only writing for yourself. As a teacher, you need to keep at it, even if some days you're not sure if you're getting through. There's also the fact that it's so much extra work if you're sick one day.
Finally, creativity. Creating resources from nothing, and making it all interesting and engaging. All of these have connections to the teaching profession, regardless of subject.
So yes - writers make good teachers. Of course, a lot of those skills can be applied to other professions too! But I'll argue that very few of them (outside of the entertainment industry) involve playing to the same audience, day after day, trying to keep your story interesting. Claim: Your writing abilities will help with that. Which may relate to why a lot of teachers keep blogs... heck, it can work the other way too. I wonder how many teachers have published books.
Did I miss an obvious skill, or make a mistake in my analysis? Then let me know below!