The Zac Attack: Fulfilling my aspirations through teaching and writing

 


I only changed my aspirations three times as a kid.

At age 5 I wanted to be a detective because I was a big fan of Batman. Later, I decided I wanted to be an archeologist after my exposure to Indiana Jones and Egyptology. It wasn’t until high school I realized I enjoyed writing, and I could make a living doing it.

A creative writing teacher at Rawlins High School showed me the joy in writing, and I followed my newfound interest all the way to college, where I pursued a degree in English education. That’s right. At first, I wanted to be a teacher. However, my interest in teaching soon disappeared after I realized how little writing I would be doing. Plus, I couldn’t pass my third semester of French, a requirement in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. So, I changed my major to journalism and here I am, writing a column, and news stories.

I love my job. I like to talk to interesting people. I love writing. But I always wondered, what would my life be like if I became a teacher? Did I miss out? I don’t know if I missed out, but I recently found I enjoy teaching, although the experience was weird at first.


Throughout October, I made trips to Encampment School to teach seniors how to write journalistically. After several lessons, each of these students wrote their own column (very impressive opinion pieces), all of which will be published in the Saratoga Sun.

Although I can’t take credit for these students’ excellence, I felt fulfilled when reading their columns. I felt like I had taught them something, and maybe coaxed their interest in writing.

I have to admit, though. The process of teaching was strange. I’m not used to public speaking, and speaking in front of 12 students was nerve -wracking. To stay comfortable, I had to sit down, which calmed me down a bit.

I found the most difficult part of teaching was trying to get my ideas across in a way anyone can understand.

In journalism, we use a lot of jargon. Lead, nutgraph, headline, breaking story, beat, OP/ED, writing tight and the list goes on.

All these terms and phrases mean something to me, but to others, these terms are meaningless. While talking with Encampment seniors, I caught myself using jargon to explain concepts, which really isn’t helpful at all. Finding the right words to explain writing proved to be difficult. I also caught myself rambling on.

I was afraid these students wouldn’t understand my explanations, but these kids nailed this project.

Each of these seniors have real writing talent, and although I cannot take credit for their work, I have to reiterate, seeing these columns gave me a sense of pride, because I felt like I really reached out to them and peaked their interest in writing.

You can see the first of the several columns in this issue on page 5.

 

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