Texts and tweets

by | Jan 7, 2021 | 2 comments

Besides the emails I sent for the January Challenge, I mostly wrote texts and tweets this week. Oh, and semester comments for my 55 ninth graders, for a total of 6,000 words. Which is low for me. And it’s very likely that over half of the students don’t even read them.

So here’s one of my comments to a 9th grader:

K, it has been a joy to work with you this semester. You are a true creator and thinker, with an unparalleled ambition to express yourself authentically and wrestle with big ideas. I want you to consider this quote by the writer Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” In other words, what you see as a weakness is, in my mind, actually a strength–a greater commitment to the written word and its possibilities. It’s a higher calling than just checking the boxes to get a certain grade. It’s okay to struggle–it means you’re doing something right. I hope that you also find joy in the process and in the outcome.

I think I first heard that quote in high school, or maybe college and it made me feel really good. So I often share it with a student who seems like s/he might like to hear that they really are a writer BECAUSE they find writing difficult.

I have four more weeks with my students before maternity leave, and I’m not returning to full-time teaching next year (eek!), so I’m feeling a bit sentimental, a bit precious about the less-than-month I have with them, virtual as it is.


  1. Florina Falce

    Brilliant! I love the quote from Thomas Mann. Works well not only for 9th graders… I’m sure you are one of those teachers who students will continue to follow and look up to forever, even when they are no longer students, but maybe teachers or writers themselves.

  2. Michael Owen

    Very much agree with Florina. I also like the way you set this up, that you “mostly wrote texts and tweets.” I think often about how the volume of incidental writing like that in my life will inevitably outweigh anything I ever Write. It ties back to the Mann quote, though – that incidental writing is real writing, maybe the realest, and it’s demanding!

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