I hate the word ‘journey’. It’s tacky, unnecessary and it seems as you were trying too hard to inspire someone. Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about (talk about a punch in the face).
I have been teaching English as a foreign language for nearly 17 years and during this period I have always struggled with writing. It is one of those skills that we, teachers, usually avoid discussing or we really “don’t have the time to explore it in class”, because let’s face it, it’s better to blame it on the schedule. The truth, at least for me, is that I have never had enough writing practice myself.
During the past 8 years, I have noticed that we avoid writing and one of the reasons is that we simply don’t have opportunities to do it. You might be thinking “Well, you’re writing now, aren’t you happy?”, I have to say “Not really.” Once you start developing in the language you expect more, you want more, as a learner and as a professional.
Having this feeling of constant doubt “Am I correcting my students’ papers properly?”, “Am I going to develop my writing skills?”, “Do I have a voice?”, made me look for a course on the topic. To my surprise, it was challenging to find a Writing Course in São Paulo, let alone a course for teachers. After looking for days and days online and talking to friends, at the end of 2016 I finally found hope. Marcela Cintra, branch manager at Cultura Inglesa Butantã and a dear friend, recommended a Writing Intensive Training to be held at Cultura Inglesa Butantã in January 2017 with Joana Darezzo, call me a nerd or a CPD addict, but I was on cloud nine.
January 21st, 2017:
- Coffee (check)
- New notebook (check)
- Pencils, pens, eraser (check)
- Motivation (check, check, check!)
Do you know that feeling you have on your first day of school? That was me, going to class as if I were 10 years old, hopping my way to school through the streets of my beloved hometown Palotina.
Day 01: Getting to know you activities (which we simply despise, but we force our students to do it, so I played along). After analysing and agreeing on the genres we would explore during these sessions, we started with a brainstorming activity about “The best things in life are free.” When your teacher starts a course with such topic, hold on tight, the adventure is about to begin.
I have spent four Saturdays deliberating, searching and breathing ‘writing’. It was one of the most rewarding courses I have taken in the past 2 years. I can’t stress this enough (seriously). Who talks about writing with so much interest and passion? Only a person as Joana Darezzo. What struck me the most was not how introvert or awkward she could be at times, actually those were some of the many reasons why she was perfect for the job, but how Joana is kind, gentle, delicate, smart and extremely passionate about writing and about teaching, so the combination was a recipe for success. When you enter a classroom, as a student, and you feel as if you were a number, a corpse occupying another chair, you feel disposable. On the other hand, if you enter a classroom and you feel that your mentor is driven by the love for her profession and the beauty of words, then you feel it matters, you matter.
I have reached the end of this ‘journey’, or better yet, this expedition. I can’t wait to delve into the writers’ world and extend my studies in the field. I would like to thank Marcela Cintra for recommending this course and acknowledge the fabulous work she does as head of this branch, she has had the vision and sensitivity to place the best professionals for each course. Joana, this course wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t masterly conducted by you. You humbly shared with us your love and knowledge about writing and I’ll forever be thankful.
I urge everyone to take up a writing course, it is not only a gratifying experience, but a ‘journey’ of self discovery. For more writing courses say “Aye!”.
“You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society