Playful writing: I remember/ I don’t remember

Playful Writing 3: I remember/ I don’t remember

This is the third writing prompt suggestion from Chuck Sandy’s iTDi blog post. I have been trying these as ten-minute free-writing activities before I give them as topics for my students, just to see what comes out of it and to make sure I can do what I am about to ask my students to do and to see where it might need to be adapted for them. The results among my students have been quite interesting – for the most part, they have said that the time limit is too short. I’m hesitant to make it longer, though. I’d rather they manage their time and I’ll increase time slowly as I originally planned. They have been sharing a lot of themselves, sometimes quite seriously, under the promise of privacy. I am getting to know them a lot better.

So without further ado, setting the timer for 10 minutes of continuous writing, let’s go!

I remember when I was a university student. I worked in the physics department office as an administrative assistant. I worked 20 hours a week – a decent part time job for whenever I didn’t have classes to attend. My boss was a wonderful woman named Lalla. She knew me better than I thought, in retrospect, and was always looking out for me. I also worked with another group of students – Adam, Nabeel, and Dennis. We used to do the New York Times crossword puzzles every day. They were free back then and we’d have no problem with the Monday puzzles. The Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles were usually okay, too if a bit more challenging. By Wednesday, there were questions that nearly stumped all of us but eventually we figured them out. Thursdays were even more difficult and I don’t think we ever finished a Friday puzzle. We never tried the Saturdays.

Anyway, when we couldn’t finish a puzzle – a Thursday one or a Friday – we would fill in the remaining letters with 7s and ‘silent Q’s. I remember how much we laughed over it. I had complained that you can’t put a ‘Q’ there. It has its own sound and completely changes the word. And Adam explained to me that it was a ‘silent Q’ and it could go there. The conversation usually dissolved into giggles and a group trip to the lunch truck for chicken fried rice.

I remember a couple years ago when I was just getting into professional development and thinking about teaching and how to become a better teacher. Oh, my thoughts are so different now from what they were then. But I was shy and couldn’t find my voice. I was uncertain – who was I, among all these people who knew what they were talking about and had been doing it forever? What if I said stupid things? What if my opinions then stuck to me and I couldn’t change them? How would I protect myself from the world and from myself. I needed a way to speak. And I remembered silent Q.

I remember the day I started using Q as an identity – it was on Twitter in a free informal webinar that probably had something to do with iTDi. I logged in and the room asked for an identity – so I typed in Q. And I met a lot of interesting people that day. But I guess they didn’t really meet me.

Time’s up. 416 words – fewer than last time.

I’m afraid that’s the not-very-interesting story of the origin of Q, now retired because I can use my own voice thanks to the friends who value it and helped me build my self-confidence.

Reading back, I wonder if I am giving my students the chance to know me as I know them through their writing, and if I should do that or need to do that. Would I be willing to share my writing with them? That’s a question worth thinking about, I guess.

This writing task took ten minutes and was pretty easy, mainly because I already knew what story I wanted to tell. I think when I do this with my students, I will give them a few minutes to think before writing about a story they might want to tell. I will also give them the option of writing a series of disconnected memories if they wish.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.




This one’s for you, friend. Because you asked.


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