The Top 10 Things I've Learned By Teaching English 101

Sunday, October 02, 2011
I’ve learned as much about writing in the past six weeks as an English Composition 101 instructor than I had in the 20 (or so) years I’ve spent as a student.

That might be an extreme statement, but reading my students' writing with a critical eye has taken me back to the fundamentals of the craft, and re-learning these makes me feel like a brand-new, fresh and eager writer again. I thought these English 101 basics were engrained in my soul, or at least my brain, but I realized how much I needed a refresher.

Here are the top 10 essential points of writing that I’ve learned by teaching English 101:

10. Going through a step-by-step writing process creates much better, more effective writing

9. Always consider the purpose and audience before, during, and after you write

8. Sometimes it’s ok to use sentence fragments, but not often

7. More words does not equal stronger meaning

6. Correctly-placed commas and apostrophes do make a difference

5. Titles, although they don’t make or break a story or essay, are often more important and more effective than the opening paragraph

4. On that note, the first paragraph or two of each rough draft can probably get cut – start with action, not a boring introduction

3. Straight-forward chronological narratives are not nearly as exciting as narratives that make shifts in time

2. “Show, don’t tell” might be a cliché, but it’s *almost* the best piece of writing advice I can give

1. In her journal, one of my students wrote that it’s a privilege for someone to read her writing. This is an important thing to remember: take pride in your writing! It is a privilege for someone to read the heart and soul you poured onto the page.

Thank you to my English 101 class for the motivation and inspiration for this blog post!

By: Anne Greenawalt
Anne on Google+


Unknown said...

Teaching is great for life-long learning!:)
I think that is what energizes people on both sides of the classroom.

Connie Hebert said...

Hi Anne - Just read your blog "The Top 10 Things I've Learned by Teaching English 101" on WOW, and as a former English teacher myself, I couldn't agree more.
Also, the article was a really smooth read. Good for you.

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