I think a big challenge that writing teachers face while preparing students to be effective writers in college and in their lives after school is the whole idea of test preparation. It’s illogical for curriculum to be designed around a test that will not impact their lives outside of the one test day. Instead, curriculum should be more diverse and serve students in whichever career/life path they choose after graduation. It should focus more heavily on creativity and independence, rather than all students producing virtually the same essay. Writing is just another form of communication and there are tons of ways to communicate. So why are we teaching kids only one specific (and frankly, ineffective) way? I can only imagine how much more enthusiastic and willing to write students would be if they felt more connected to their piece. I think one concern I have is exactly how can one single teacher provide enough diversity to properly prepare all students without favoring a specific type of student (i.e the one who may go on to college to become a doctor, for example). I think putting those expectations on one teacher is not the most efficient way to handle the situation. I’m not sure how it works in bigger schools, but in my elementary school there was one writing teacher who taught every grade. So it’s not a surprise that I didn’t feel truly prepared to tackle all the different forms of writing in life. We learned one way from one teacher. However, if there were more teachers voicing their perspective and showing us different ways to do things, maybe the outcome would’ve been better. I think being aware of the fact that writing is a form of communication and truly understanding its value could help emphasize the fact that there are groups of people who are constantly being quieted or oppressed by the education system. In a way, the way writing curriculum is taught now is just perpetuating that vicious cycle. I think one way to combat this issue in a sense would to introduce more writing styles/ specializations earlier. Maybe have separate classes that instead of alienating/making life harder for the students who won’t go on to college, for example, it can focus on other types of writing that will be relevant to them. Still give them the same tools, just other ways on how to use it. I think an important skill that a teacher needs to possess to teach writing effectively is the ability to understand each individual students’ needs and not see them as better/worse than another student. Treat each student the same in the sense that they all get the same attention and guidance, but don’t try to fit students creativity into a mold with test prompts and structured formats for essays. Writing should be empowering, but this is not the case when there are limitations and “rules” that must be followed. We aren’t properly preparing kids for the “real world” if we are not teaching them how to come up with their own ideas and convey them effectively. Why wouldn’t school be about teaching children how to live life after school? We are basically setting kids up for failure by not teaching them how to explore their own ideas and passions and forcing them to do something one way and claiming it’s the right way. Not following the “rules” should not result in points off a rubric. There are so many different forms of writing and situations where ideas need to be communicated; we have to be teaching children that. So they’ll know how to write a resume or they’ll know how to write a college application or a cover letter. Exposing kids to a wide range of different forms of writing will only help them understand just how important it is.