Listen in to our interview with Lorri about her experience as a therapist and as an English teacher.
Interview with Lorri Wilke
Q: In your experience as an English teacher, what are some of the writing hurdles that your students face?
A: There are so many – and of course it depends on the student. Some kiddos simply have no idea where to even begin a writing assignment. They don’t realize that they have anything worthwhile to say. Other kiddos have bunches and bunches of things to say, but they don’t know how to trim it all down or organize it. For many, confidence is a big hurdle, and still others struggle immensely with grammar. I will say, however, that for most struggling writers, the problem is multi-layered, and that is why Rx for Writing is also multi-layered.
Q. What have you seen as the most significant area of success in your Rx for Writing classes?
A: As students begin to realize that they actually have something important to say, and that they can actually say it in an organized way that makes sense, they begin to blossom. Success breeds success. I’ve got a couple of kiddos currently who have gone from barely scratching out 4 or 5 words in a sentence to cheerfully crafting sentences in a variety of structures and full of interesting words and details. I’m big on promoting “can do” attitudes in my students, and a “can do” attitude promotes success. As they gain confidence, they are more willing to experiment with words. Most eventually learn that writing can actually be fun! Who knew!?
Q. Can you share one student’s success story?
A: Just one?! I’ve been working with a girl whose diagnosis includes “borderline intellectually impaired”. My firm opinion is that “diagnosis never gets the last word,” and that certainly seems to be the case with this particular student. Even I, the eternal optimist, was caught by surprise by a paragraph she showed up with in a session recently. She went above and beyond anyone’s expectations, and this seems to be a common pattern. We still have plenty of work to do, but she is clearly on her way.
Q. What background/skills/passion do you bring to this training?
A. I taught English grammar and composition for years, and frankly, I learned right along with the kids! Of course, I had a pretty firm grasp on grammar and composition before accepting that position, but those young writers taught me a lot, and my respect for English teachers grew exponentially when I became one! Professional experience and content knowledge, however, are not enough on their own. Mixing my experience and knowledge with a passion to nurture struggling learners is the best formula for success. Some kids don’t see the diamond that I see. I’ve got a sign in my office that says, “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did really well under pressure”. I’m there to guide them through the discomfort of some of that necessary pressure – until they begin to see the diamonds they really are!
Q. Have you seen Rx for Writing groups in schools and in private practice? Individually and in groups? Describe your experience.
A. In my private practice, I work mostly one-on-one with individual learners and occasionally with pairs of learners. The beauty of Rx for Writing is that it can be adjusted for individuals, pairs, or groups, and each has its own benefits.