Teaching writing; teaching; writing; fiction; reading; empathy; love

Teachable Moments

One day I’d like to have a story featuring a teacher band called Teachable Moments. For now, I just want to brag about my students. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect I’ve found in teaching advanced fiction workshops at Dalhousie this year is the joy of watching the way students get behind each other’s work. Inevitably, every student reads every other student’s work with warmth and generosity and sincerity. They are such powerful, attentive, empathetic readers. They care deeply. They listen. They bring each other to tears. They gush. They make friends. They respect each other by taking the work seriously, warts and all. More than anything else, they’ve taught me to read generously, to read with love. Sometimes the world of semi-professional writing can feel scarily competitive, even hostile. Never competitive, jealous, or egotistic, these lovely students have been showing me how to read with openness and empathy. It’s enriching and nourishing. I enjoy watching them become better writers, but more than that I find it thrilling to read alongside them, to peel back the skin of their stories and tend the beating hearts therein. So this is a thank you to my students for sustaining me this year.

The board in workshop on an average Tuesday night.

The workshop board on a snowy Tuesday night