What do you discover in the chaos? What creases have been made on your brain? What is something others should know? What truth dazzles you?
The very last thing my students and I do together as a writing community is to reflect on our journey together as a community of writers, learners, and humans. While my students will later craft their writing into a final reflection for me, the raw and unfiltered writing we share with the community on this day of reflection is everything I love about teaching writing as a journey.
My students and I generated a lot of pages of writing out of these invitations and I know that I can return to these questions and poems over and over again, so I hope you will find inspiration in these poems and questions as well.
I use Everything Needs Fixing by Karla Cordero for various writing purposes throughout the semester, but some of the questions I offered to my students for a writing invitation include:
- This class is a toolbox that I have filled with the tools I think you might need to take with you on your journey as writers. [note: as humans we can use this same metaphor to explore the tools we have acquired through our lives] Explore this metaphor. What tool(s) are most important to you? What tool(s) do you still need to acquire?
- Did you discover any magic in yourself this semester – whether a tiny sprinkle of fairy dust or a full-blown miracle?
- How do you feel about the jagged imperfections still evident in your writing?
- What did you find in the chaos?
Lessons by Vanessa Stauffer was another poem I had used before, but it felt like a great inspiration for end-of-semester reflection as I just love the idea of how new experiences change the creases in our brain:
- What has emerged for you this semester?
- What memory will you retain?
- What creases have been made on your brain?
Something You Should Know by Clint Smith is a huge favorite of mine that I regularly choose to share with my students and other writers. It really is a perfect gem of a poem. I asked only one question: What is something (you learned this semester) that should be known/understood by others?
Last, but not least, I returned to a poem whose central metaphor has guided so much of my teaching this entire academic year: Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263) by Emily Dickinson. I asked my students:
- What truth did you learn about yourself (as a human, writer and rhetorician, and/or reflective, self-regulating critical thinker) during this class?
- What truth about this class and/or our writing community would dazzle (or possibly blind) others (if we thought they could handle the truth)?