Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Professional Writing

Note: Ken Lindblom, editor of English Journal, made recommendations in the May 2011 English Journal for how to publish successfully in professional journals. In July 2004 I published a book on my experiences in English education for over thirty years, entitled Teaching English, How To…., Xlibris, 2004. One of my chapters dealt with professional writing. In the next few blogs, I am going to reprint excerpts from my chapter on professional writing: what I learned about writing from my attempts to publish in professional journals. RayS.

Chapter 14

Professional Writing

What Can Teachers of Writing Learn from Trying to Publish Professionally?

Writing professionally will teach teachers of writing that they are still learning to write. In this chapter, I tell what I have learned about writing from my attempts to publish in professional journals. .

I think teachers of writing should attempt to publish professionally. Why?

From my first experience in submitting an article for publication, I learned humility. I learned what it feels like to be rejected. I gained a better understanding of the writing process. I developed empathy for my writing students. I became a sufferer along with my students in learning how to write. From publishing professionally, I learned that learning to write is a lifelong process, that every time I write, the situation is different and I learn to write all over again.

In attempting to write for publication, I learned that asking others to review my work can have a damaging effect on my ego and that I must insist on asking my reviewer not to make judgments on the quality of the writing, but to identify ideas that are not clear, advice that I have passed on to my students. Nonjudgmental responses have been most helpful to me in revising my articles for publication.

My second attempt at publishing professionally demonstrated to me the strange twists that the writing process can take.

Why Should Teachers of Writing Also Write?

I think that anyone who teaches writing should also write. At the very least, completing the students’ assignment can help the teacher anticipate difficulties with the assignment. On the other hand, I read recently the comments of a teacher who said he does not have time to write because he teachers. That alone occupies “48 hours a day,” he said. I share this teacher’s feeling of being overwhelmed by too much work to do when one teaches English. But I still think any teacher of writing must also write, in order to establish a feeling of shared learning with the students. And writing for publication has been a learning experience for this teacher of writing, who remains very humble when trying to teach others to write.

Writing Professionally Helped Improve My Teaching of Writing

One particular experience in publishing professionally helped me to formulate a method for revising that I recommend to my students. This experience was also quite funny, or at least it seems so now. It didn’t then.

Next blog: My First Professional Article.

NOTE: ESL (English as a Second Language). Beginning on June 27, 2011, I began a series of article reviews dealing with teaching English as a second language. This series of article reviews continues right through the present time in July 2011. The articles suggest practical techniques for working with ESL students. You will find these reviews at The title of the blog is “Teaching English How To….” Rays.

1 comment:

  1. Getting an assignment right, and in accordance with the demands of the professor is a daunting task. Good writing assignments always start with a clear goal that the teacher can express, usually on the assignment sheet so that students understand the goal as well.

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