Sometimes in my Creative Writing class, I'll tell my students that I'll be switching back and forth between my "teacher" hat (when I'm concerned about grades or attendance or school policies), and my "writer's" hat (when I'm enjoying conversing with them about the joys/heartaches of writing, and I feel less like a "teacher" with them, and more like a writer). At that point, wearing the writer's hat, I can learn from them, too, writer-to-writer. I'm inspired by their stories and by their writing, and am able to share my personal writing experiences, too.
Well, for today's "What If" exercise, I was only wearing my writer's hat. I listened to the students read their work and was amazed at the depth of skill and writing they were producing. This is a still-new class (we've only had 3 sessions together), and this was the prompt I gave:
Choose a meaningful object (jewelry, clothing, heirloom, etc). Then, describe that object in vivid detail. Finally, tell the meaning behind the object - why is it significant to you?
Now, at this point in any semester, whenever I ask students if they'd like to share, I might get about 3 responses (if any). But today, SEVEN students wanted to share (out of 15). Four of them shared about objects that were directly related to loved ones they'd lost (grandfather, brother, father, friend). One of the students had to choke back tears as he read his aloud. Afterward, I thanked him for being brave by sharing something so personal, and for proving the point that writing is about LIFE. When writing is genuine and raw and real, it touches people.
The other three students shared extremely profound poetry about an object that "seems" meaningless on the surface (MP3 player, a half-dollar), but that, to them, meant something special.
I think today was a huge ice-breaker, and I'm expecting great things from this class!