I’m in my third week of teaching a personal essay class at a local community center and (I am relieved to say that) I’m liking it! So far…so good. It’s a small class, I have just 3 students which is fine because this is the first time I’ve ever taught a writing class. I’m being paid and it’s in high school close to my home.I’m having fun writing up my lectures or lesson plans or objectives, whatever you want to call it. All good things. However, I have one small problem and I’m not sure what to do.
The class is called, Personal Essay Writing and here is how I described the class in the brochure:
“The most well known writing advice has to be “Write what you know”. If this idea appeals to you and you are interested in mining the depths of your personal experience on paper, then this is the class for you. In this class you can expect to: gather ideas, decide which stories to tell, structure your story, find your voice and get audience feedback through our supportive workshop environment. As the workshop leader, I will share my knowledge of the personal essay market, and how to get your stories published.”
So in my class of 3 students, I have one older man who wants to write his life story for his friends, family and colleagues. He is not writing personal essays, he is writing his personal history. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my decsription and maybe it shouldn’t matter with only 3 students, maybe I should just tailer the class to each person’s needs-I’m still being paid-but as I read his writing, his assignment from last week (which is hand written) I’m thinking, this is not the class I said I was going to teach. And if I need to spend time teaching him how to write his history, aren’t I depriving the 2 other students from the objectives of the class, from what I said I was going to teach? I don’t know what to do. I fear that my student would like to spend the class reminiscing and I am having a hard time reining him in…….
what do I do?