The Creative Writing Assignment

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Alexa Schlechter (right) with best friend Alison Smith. (Courtesy of Alexa Schlechter)

This is an installment of the Stories Teachers Share podcast. Listen above or on iTunes to hear how the story unfolds.

High school English teacher Alexa Schlechter was used to having a mix of students -- those who really wanted to learn creative writing alongside kids who were just looking for class credit. Like many teachers, most of her attention was dominated by the kids who told her with their voices and actions that they didn't want to be there. Less obvious to her were the silent, well-behaved kids who also needed help, until one fateful writing assignment.

Alexa Alison

Schlechter told students to write a memoir for a future reader. What would they want that person to know about the mark they'd left on the world? What would be their legacy?

Normally Schlechter likes to check her students' writing progress as they work, but one girl insisted that Schlechter shouldn't read her memoir until it was finished. Schlechter agreed because the girl had always worked hard and was making progress, but when she read what had been written, it changed their lives.


Alexa shared this experience with her best friend, Alison Smith, who has supported her throughout her teaching career. Listen to Alexa's story of that fateful creative writing assignment in the first episode of Stories Teachers Share, a new podcast from MindShift and KQED Public Media.

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