Looking Back Through Lesson Leadership by Gemma Collins

When I first came to the Creative Writing Department, I was in awe of how Heather (our department head) was willing to listen to student input and feedback. The seniors took on leadership roles—my ninth-grade self was awed by their intelligence and maturity. I watched upper-level students playing active roles in class and marveled at how they spoke so eloquently. I saw them do presentations and wondered how they talked fearlessly in front of everyone else. I listened to their writing and wished I would one day know as much as them or be able to express myself so clearly. Now, as a senior, I view Creative Writing from the opposite perspective. A few weeks ago, the senior class (shoutout to Emilie) led units on analyzing and writing poetry while Heather was out. We instructed the rest of the group by developing games and fun activities about various literary devices. The lesson included a thirty-slide-long presentation that took racking our brains of every literary device known to humankind to create. I even decorated my slides with funny anecdotes, pictures, and examples. We sat in the room as peers, helping each other deepen the conversation around the poems we discussed. If you asked anyone in this department, I am sure they would tell you that the community is what makes us unique. The units we taught last week showed me how much the students shape creative writing. Heather and artists-in-residence may manage the class, but student participation and discussion fuel the community’s energy. We build our analysis of poetry through hearing each other’s points of view and thrive off of hearing everyone’s creative interpretations. Sitting in class that day made me realize how fast time has gone from being a freshman to being a senior and how I am now so comfortable in a once foreign and frightening place.