You might be familiar with the term ‘triadic relationship’, which stands for a parent, a child, and a spouse/partner, and how this can cause problems in a family dynamic. However, this relationship also applies to educators and students, and can cause problems in an educational setting. This is where creative writing comes in; teaching creative writing to middle school students can be challenging!
The reason is simple. Children at this age don’t see the world in the same way adults do. They believe things should happen according to certain rules, and that they can’t change anything. This can make it hard to guide them into becoming confident problem-solvers and creative writers when they’re so young.
The Role Of The Classroom Companion
One of the best things about teaching creative writing to middle school students is the opportunity to work with a ‘classroom companion’ – an adult who’s been through the same process as the students and can help them navigate what can sometimes be a difficult journey. In many instances, it’s not the students themselves that need the help, but their parents. This is where the companion in the classroom can be an invaluable asset.
If you work in a public school, the role of a classroom companion is something you’re probably already used to. However, if you work in a private school, this can be a new role for you. You might not be used to having ‘children’ in your charge, but these are the future writers, artists, and businesspeople you’ll be working with.
It’s crucial to establish a trusting relationship with the students. Something as simple as sitting down with them and giving them your full attention could make the difference between them feeling comfortable enough to open up to you, and you getting roped into being a sounding board for their problems. It’s also important to remember that while the process of becoming a successful writer might be challenging, it doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There are many examples of people who didn’t ‘fit’ into the traditional mold and came from an unconventional background who went on to achieve great literary success. Perhaps, there’s something in your own background that made you the perfect person for this job – even if it’s not what you initially thought!
The Benefits Of Working With Younger Students
Working with younger students is often more beneficial than working with older ones, mainly because they haven’t developed a thick shell yet. This is an important phase of child development, and it means they’re more receptive to new things. For example, if you work with first graders, they will already be familiar with the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. This means they will have fewer barriers to crossing over into the world of creative writing and literature, where you can teach them new things like figurative language and creative story-telling.
The downside is that working with younger students can be more difficult, mainly because of their need for constant supervision. If you’re used to being in charge of older children, being in a position of authority as a 28 year old might be difficult. Additionally, younger students often don’t have the same sense of responsibility or accountability as older ones do. In other words, you might find yourself in the position of having to scold or discipline them more than once.
How To Work With Young Students
Even though it might be more difficult to work with younger students, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Being a successful creative writing teacher requires both patience and determination. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to work with young students effectively and get the most out of the experience.
Set A Good Example
It’s important to set a good example for the students. This means you should do your job with enthusiasm and dedication. Set aside time after school to work on the class work, and don’t be afraid to go above and beyond what is required. Young children look up to strong and determined individuals, so by setting a good example, you’re setting yourself up for a positive influence on the young students in your charge.
Know Your Students
Just because they’re younger doesn’t mean they’re immature. Quite the opposite, in fact – they can be quite mature for their age. The key is in knowing what makes them tick. In order to do this, it’s beneficial to get to know them on a personal level outside of the classroom. Take the time to get to know their interests, hobbies, families, and concerns. This will help both you and the student develop a greater connection, and it means you can tailor your lessons to meet their needs. Additionally, if you know that some of the students are struggling with specific skills, you can find the right tools to help them out. For example, if you know that some of the students have trouble expressing themselves, you’d better provide them with the right outlet for this – be it through art, music, or writing. As a teacher, it’s your responsibility to ensure all students feel comfortable enough to participate, and art, music, or writing should be a safe space for them to do this.
Use Figurative Language
While some people might get turned off by the idea of teaching creative writing to young students, figurative language can actually be really helpful in this regard. Instead of using everyday language, which can sometimes be confusing to a young student, you can substitute it with more sophisticated words and phrases. As an example, if you want to discuss what type of clothes you should wear to a prom, you can say ‘This is an important decision. You need to choose clothes that make you look like a goddess, but also make the other ladies jealous’ – rather than using the more common ‘You need to choose the outfits that make you look pretty’ or ‘What should I wear for my prom?’ The first sentence uses figurative language, and the second doesn’t.
Metaphors can also be a useful tool when teaching creative writing to younger students. If you want to describe something in a creative way, you can use a metaphor to do this. Metaphors allow you to put your own spin on something to make it sound more interesting – or to show how something is really not as it seems. As an example, you can use a metaphor to describe how a rainbow is created. Instead of saying ‘Rainbow means “pretty”‘ you can say ‘A rainbow is formed when sunlight is refracted through drops of water’ – and the meaning behind this is quite different!
It’s important to dress appropriately when working with young students. This means that you shouldn’t wear your flashy clothes, as this might make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, it’s best to wear something simple and classic that will make you look and feel like a professional. It is also important to keep in mind what your student will be doing after school – will they be playing sports, going to movies, or going to other people’s houses for dinner? Knowing what they’ll be doing can help you decide what’s appropriate for them. It might be best to avoid jeans and short-sleeve shirts if you want them to feel comfortable participating in your class – and this is something you’re responsible for as their teacher.
The Danger Of Parental Skepticism
Something else you need to be careful of is parental skepticism. Just because the students are younger doesn’t mean they don’t have critical thinking skills. It’s quite the opposite – they can be quite mature for their age, which means they can handle complicated ideas and processes. However, this doesn’t mean parents get a free pass when it comes to being skeptical about what their children are learning. If they’re worried about their children gaining bad habits from your class, they have every right to be – especially since you’re responsible for their well-being as an adult. As a teacher, it’s your job to ensure all students feel comfortable participating, but it’s also your responsibility to ensure they don’t get hurt by what they’re learning – and being in a position of authority as an adult might be intimidating to some students. Remember: you’re the expert and they’re the students, and this reflects on you as their teacher.