I've Learned To Become A Better Writer After Teaching My Students

I've Learned To Become A Better Writer After Teaching My Students

My students have inspired me throughout my year of teaching them.
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This last Friday was my last day of teaching my fifth-grade creative writing class after a full year of doing so. My class is not only moving from one grade to another but graduating from elementary school to middle school. I am incredibly excited for them (and slightly nervous because I'm sure they will be too). However, what I am most proud of them accomplishing in a year is the book of short stories they produced through their hard work and imagination.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My mom tells me that the first story-writing class I was placed in was at the age of three. I'm pretty sure that I wrote some story of some sorts. However, I am glad to say that my writing has both improved in terms of creativity and legibility.

What I had experienced, under the encouraging supervision of my own fourth- and fifth-grade teacher changed my life. Writing stopped becoming a means to an end or a bore. I always enjoyed telling stories, but I never just enjoyed the act of piecing words together in a sentence or listening to flow and rhythm. The joy I experienced from those two years of practiced journaling was lost a little after I began high school.

I was still a pretty good writer, but I never challenged myself beyond the boundaries of getting good grades in my classes. Until I came to UCLA. Especially, after I began teaching my own students.

Through the UCLA Writer's Den, I was able to teach my own fifth-grade class after volunteering with one the year before. I didn't remember that enthusiasm for just telling stories—not even writing full-fledged novels—until I walked into what would become my weekly classroom. The most amazing part of it all was that no one was afraid.

Of course, they doubted themselves from time to time. The most heartbreaking question that my volunteers or I ever received was "Am I doing this right?" or "Is this correct?" Not because I wanted them to be skillful writers without the need of any assistance at their age and expertise, but because I wanted them to take up that class space without wondering if someone will judge them or tell them what they're writing was wrong.

However, once they began writing, they wrote about everything and anything that they could think of. They wrote some of the goriest, funniest, and most heartwarming stories from that class than I have written myself since I was a kid.

And the best part was seeing their struggle and determination to write amazing stories that they would contribute towards the book that we were making and publishing.

After the book was sent to the publishers a couple weeks ago, I have been asked nothing other than if the books are available to read yet. Parents who came to their student story-reading at UCLA were proud and excited to see the hardbound books their children made.

For myself, I truly believe I have become a better writer and teacher because of these students and their weekly hijinks and hard work. I am so proud and fortunate to have been given the class that I was. I also find a kind of bittersweet joy in the fact that we'll both be graduating from our levels of education at the same time.

I can't wait to hear from them, and see what they accomplish later in life. I mostly hope that I will keep in mind the experience I have had from the last year of teaching. I hope it will fuel my writing and my creative mind for the rest of my life.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


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Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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If I Could Dream A Perfect Day, This Is What I'd Do

An inside look at what my dream day would be like.

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Have you ever just had such a crappy day that you find yourself lying in bed daydreaming about what your perfect day would be like? No limitations, no pain, no frustrations. Just whatever you want.

Well, I have. Here is a look at what my perfect day would contain.

1. Teleportation

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I know, I know. The first thing on my list is something that could absolutely never happen, at least in my lifetime. But hear me out.

I want to travel, but any form of transportation makes me sick. Cars, boats, planes, trains, you name it I end getting sick. So if I could teleport than I wouldn't have to deal with it. Plus I wouldn't have to pay for gas or airfare. It's a win-win.

2. My Mom

Kayla Resler

It wouldn't be a perfect day if my mom wasn't along for the ride. Who else would I have fun with and then rub it in my brothers face later?

Just kidding, he would come too.

3. Food

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It would not be a prefect day if it didn't involve food. And if it was free it would be even better.

4. London

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I have been dying to go back to London, and if it was my perfect day I would definitely take a trip over the pond!

5. Meet the Stars

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If it was going to be my perfect day, I would meet some celebrities. Let me scream, and jump, and totally fangirl in front of Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron, and Robert Downey Jr. just to name a few.

6. Meet Fictional Characters

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Earlier I said no limitations, so that means I get to meet fictional characters such as the Mikaelson family, the Golden Trio, Sirius Black, the Avengers, the Joker (he wouldn't kill me), and Hannibal Lecter (he also wouldn't kill me) to name a few.

7. Disney World

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Bring on the magic! I want to go to Disney World and not have to wait in any lines. That would be a perfect day.

8. Learn a New Language

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If I could learn how to speak French or German in a day that would be amazing.

9. Queen Concert

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If I could close out the day by traveling back in time to see a Queen concert with Freddie Mercury back on stage that would be the perfect end to the perfect day.

10. Happiness

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If everyone that I love was completely happy, with no stresses holding them down, for just one day that would definitely be a part of my perfect day.

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