Monday, March 28, 2011


Perhaps it is the tantalizing hint of spring weather followed by snowflakes; or maybe it's that spring-break-is-over-but-the-semester-is-never-ending feeling.  Perhaps it is the fact that one of my English 101 classes this semester seems to be semi-comatose (which state seems to be wildly contagious); that soap operas are dying, and that the only job I know is to write them; perhaps it is the fact that my agent, after years of ignoring my pestering, has finally produced a gargantuan list of rejections I have received (without the single name of an editor or any reasons for the rejections) that is either completely made-up or completely not made up  -- either possibility being completely depressing; perhaps it is the fact that my grumpiness about my career has made me a grumpier-than-usual mother, daughter, and wife in these past few weeks.  I said to my husband the other day, "I feel as though I'm not good at anything!" 

So...  not to be a downer, but I decided to have my students (who are at that depressingly overburdened point in the semester) to do the following exercise tomorrow morning:

Writing Workout
Students are often very good at making generalizations but reluctant to provide examples and illustrations to bring their essays to life.  In the name of encouraging both positive thoughts AND the practice of providing the evidence to back them up, I will ask them to:

1. Make a list of personal strengths.  Be unstinting in your own praise.  Do not write less than five items.

2. Provide a concrete example from your life of each of these strengths in action.

Do not turn in your list but, rather, tuck it in your pocket, hold it close to your heart, and think of it often.

Happy spring, all!  --Jeanne Marie


Carmela Martino said...

What a terrific exercise, Jeanne Marie! I hope you'll do it too, because you have MANY talents worth affirming: you're creative, caring, conscientious, and fun to be around--and those are only the first 4 characteristics that come to my mind. Hang in there; spring is just around the corner for both you and your students. :-)

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

I posted this one to FaceBook

Linda said...

Great exercise, Jeanne. I plan to do this one tonight before I go to bed!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh my, Jeanne Marie ~ You're such a solidly wonderful writer and your humor always lifts me!

FABULOUS exercise.

Fabulous woman who wrote it, too.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea. Students spend too much time putting themselves and their work down, or laughing at themselves when they are working on art or serious writing assignments. What a wonderful way to have students take themselves and their talents seriously.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Thanks for all of your wonderful affirmations! My students seemed to enjoy this exercise and did give wonderful, concrete support for their assertions. The most interesting self-reported talent was "removing bubblegum from hair." I am definitely filing away that student's tips for future use.