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The Challenges of Being a Teacher-Writer

Ariel Sacks, who is working on a book, reflects on the difficulties of being a teacher and writing about it at the same time:

Like Virginia Woolf argued in A Room of One's Own—a woman cannot be expected to write while she's cooking and taking care of children in a confined space. Her writing will suffer. I always hated that point, thinking it was narrowminded, but there was some truth to it. One needs mental space to bring the ideas out of the working memory and onto the paper. Space to focus on putting the words together. That process requires as much brain-power as creating materials for a lesson or a new seating plan. It is difficult to occupy both of those thought spaces at once.

Yet she goes on to explain that, hard as it is, she believes writing also makes her a better teacher—insofar as it helps her to reflect on her practice, participate in professional dialogue, and better understand her subject area.

As it happens, Sacks has an excellent piece on teaching novels in the upcoming issue of our Teacher PD Sourcebook, which will be online early next month. (In fact, I feel a little guilty because, timing-wise, it's quite possible that she wrote the above assent to Virginia Woolf just after working with us! It was a pretty tight deadline, I'm afraid ... ) Keep an eye out for it.

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