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Self-Editing Tips for Writers

These self-editing tips are based collectively on submissions from my adult creative writing workshops. They are tips meant for advanced rather than beginning writers, though they apply to almost every writer. They are generally more helpful in editing a first draft into a second draft, so don’t feel like you need to keep them in mind as you are writing. Get your writing onto the paper first. That’s the most important part. Then pick ONE of the following tips and edit for that.

Using the Tools of Standup Comedy to Make Your Writing Funnier (Humor Writing Mini-Course, Class 3)

Welcome to the third class in your 4-week, humor writing mini-course. This lesson talks about some basic principles of writing jokes for standup comedy and how these might apply to your writing.

Using “Benign Violation Theory” to Make Your Writing Funnier (Humor Writing Mini-Course, Class 2)

Welcome to class two of your 4-week, humor writing mini-course. In this lesson we’ll talk about how to choose the right level of detail to make your writing fit into the “Benign Violation” Theory of humor. (And if that’s not a hilarious class description, I don’t know what is.)

What Makes Writing Funny? (Humor Writing Mini-Course, Class 1)

Welcome to the first lesson of your 4-week, humor writing mini course. Today we’ll look at some examples of what makes things funny, and do an overview of the four most popular humor theories, ending with the one you’ll probably find most helpful in your writing. At the end, we’ll focus on tuning your mental radio to the “humor nerd station” so you can see the possibilities for humor all around you.

Humor Writing Mini-Class: Overview and Recommended Reading

This is an online-friendly version of a four-week course I taught through The Center for Writing and Literature at Miami-Dade College. The class was a great chance to spend time with other writers and use my nerdly passion for studying what makes things funny. It will probably be a long time before I’ll teach the same class again, so I’m putting the lessons online for other people who want to learn to make their writing funny. You can sign up here to receive the most current versions of activities and exercises once a week for four weeks. 

Quiz: What’s Your Most Natural Teaching Style?

Teachers often learn the hard way that weaknesses in our personal lives can carry over to our teaching styles. The good news is that the skills and strengths that we had before we started waking up at 5 AM are still there, also. Consider your answers to the questions below as you try to channel your personal strengths into classroom success.

New Teacher Orientation Speech Notes (Or, Six Reasons to Treat Your First-Day Classroom Like an Airport.)

This year, over thirty school districts will be giving See Me After Class to all their incoming teachers. To celebrate, here are the notes from the most requested twelve-minute segment of my New Teacher Orientation speech: Six Reasons to Treat Your First-Day Classroom Like an Airport.

“The Holistic Grading Half-Sheet” – A Downloadable Tool to Make Grading Papers Easier

As a high school writing teacher, I’m especially susceptible to the paper pile. My book chapter, Grading Work Without Hating Work, offers tips for balancing speed with specificity, but I’ve also developed a tool I call “The Holistic Grading Half-Sheet,” which you can download here.

Parent Communication Tips for Young Teachers

Ten years from now, you’ll love it when people assume you’re young. You’ll smile when a bartender asks you for ID, and if a student’s mother says you look like a college student, it will take everything in your power not to hug her. Not this year, though. As a young, beginning teacher, comments about your age seem like thinly veiled doubts as to whether you know what you’re doing. You’ve spent months dodging questions from kids about how long you’ve been teaching. The last thing you want is for a parent to describe you as “adorable,” or call you “sweetie” during a conference. Inspiring confidence in parents who are older than you are can be tough, especially while you’re still developing confidence in yourself. Here are some tips to help you out.

Video: How Teachers Can Manage Their Bosses

Rick Hess’s new book, The Cage-Busting Teacher, offers guidance on how teachers can best use their finite supply of time and energy to impact their workplaces and profession. I’m a fan – and one of the teachers featured in the book. Here is a short video in which I share some tips on how teachers can “manage” their relationships with administrators – illustrated with some cute graphics.