Lamar University, Beaumont, TX (English)
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX (Master's)
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA (Graduate Coursework)
Although I have a master's degree in psychology, my career has been mostly in the field of teaching remedial writing and Freshman English. I have had poems published in small publications going back to 1986. I am currently writing my first novel. I have a distinguished editor who has become a dear friend, as well as an incredible mentor.
I authored a creative writing program, Writing Out Of Trouble, designed to assist inmates who express a desire to address their drug and alcohol addiction. The theory behind the program is that they could arrive at their own decision regarding the need to be "clean and sober" rather than having that need imposed on them by others. I have been clean and sober since April, 1983.
My greatest attribute as a teacher is that I am always open to the notion that I learn as much from the student as the student learns from me.
Alex D. Although I have a master's degree in psychology, my career has been mostly in the field of teaching remedial writing and Freshman English. I have had poems published in small publications going back to 1986. I am currently writing my first novel. I have a distinguished editor who has become a dear friend, as well as an incredible mentor.
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I view English as an umbrella covering grammar, literature, proofreading, and writing skills. A student is free to ask for assistance in any of these categories. For a more intensive/extensive review of any of the four categories mentioned above, I am, of course, prepared to work closely with a student on those. We may find that initially a student may ask for help with one or two, but then assistance is needed in the others.
I offer two approaches to teaching grammar. I review a writing sample from the student to assess where he/she is in their development of this skill. This information becomes an active tool for launching our work on grammar.
The second approach is to study sentence structure. Using a sentence, we dissect it into the part of the sentence that is serving as the the subject (the "doer") and the words that indicate what the subject is doing. From that point we carefully cover all parts of speech and what each part does to provide meaning.
I also encourage students to read all of their sentences out loud to themselves. We often correct ourselves because we have heard grammar spoken correctly or appropriately.
There are, at least, two great benefits from "ingesting" as many poems, essays, novels, novellas, and short stories as one can in a lifetime. The story or metaphor behind any genre can point toward the value and the theme of the author's: they provide insight and understanding unavailable to us before the read. However, Wallace Stevens, a poet I read and appreciate, has stated his position that a reader should feel free to choose his or her own interpretation of another's writing. My tendency has been to read a work to better understand myself and make positive changes in my thought and actions.
Both approaches, a reading of a work as a study in standard literary criticism or as a tool for the study of my life are valid. I encourage my students to actively engage in both.
The art of proofreading requires sophistication in grammar and general writing skill. My experience in proofreading made it all too clear I must master sentence structure, spelling, and the meaning of a passage that is being conveyed.
Some years ago I was approved to proofread legislation written by State Representatives. I did not take the job because I began teaching remedial writing at a university. Frankly, I was happy about this decision: the samples from the legislators were appalling. These legislative writing samples inspired me to offer students the very best I could muster as a teacher of language.
Writing skills can hypothetically fall on a continuum from a student needing a lot of attention from a facilitator to a point where a student has mastered the craft, if such a place on the continuum exists. I have extensive experience working with writers on most points on the continuum. My approach is to review the writing from a student when we meet and to move forward from their apparent skill level.
All writers at any level have thoughts and feelings that must be respected. I encourage all my students to place their thoughts and feelings on paper in any form or fashion. The clustering of these can lead to a theme, subtopics, and sentences that support subtopics and enhance theme.
Thoughts and feelings, of course, may become any genre. The creative imagination evident in a story and the critical thinking needed to state one's opinion in an essay constitute the art of writing