Student inspiration

This is an entry taken from my teaching portfolio. It was written during my second year of teaching at the Hannaford Career Center and inspired by a struggling writer who was a genius in the diesel mechanics lab.


Several times a week I ask students to write for 5 minutes non-stop in their writing journals. I started off the year giving specific prompts but found that students always wrote better and more on “Freewrite Fridays” where they got to choose the topic. Second semester I took their lead and allowed them to choose their topic for each journal write. This is one example of student writing for this assignment.


Harvesting Pea Crop, Cowra Dated: No date Digital ID: 12932-a012-a012X2443000167 Rights:

“I hate to write because I don’t feel productive. Putting ink on paper is only good for one thing: keeping the loggers in business. When I write stuff it’s just its just weird lines on paper. I t has no use once its there, there is nothing more to do with it. To feel productive I want to be able to see a change. Like when you fix something you see it come apart, and go back together – change. When it gets towed in to the shop and drove out – change. Writing is like working in the shop doing the work without the change. Thus not productive. It isn’t even that good for communication because again, you can’t see the expressions (change) on a reader’s face.”

The writer was a senior Diesel Technology student who was also enrolled in my Technical Communications class to earn the ½ English credit he needed to graduate. He also completely disassembled and reassembled a diesel tractor during the course of a semester.

 This is my response to his writing:

“This is excellent work! You are very right. It is hard to see the “change” in writing. That’s where your audience or reader comes in. I think you’ve done a great job of expressing the frustrations that many students face in writing. I would argue, however, that when you write something you make your thoughts and ideas concrete – something that will last and in a way that your voice can be heard even when you are not there. Writing can give anyone a “louder” voice and a bigger audience.”

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