What Is Your Teaching Experience and Background?

Watch the answer from Thomas above or read a transcript of the video below.


Dennis E. writes, "Hello Thomas. What is your background as an English teacher and how does it correlate with your work as a poet and a writer?"

My Teaching and Writing Journey

I've taught English for 22 years, beginning after graduating from college. After graduation I taught for two and a half years in south India and then I taught at the university level at the Ohio State University.

I've also worked as a tutor and tutored students from elementary and middle school all the way through high school and college.

But I think of myself primarily as a writer and a poet. That's my daily work. Just as one of our students today says she looks forward to doing her studies daily, which I think is lovely, every day I look forward to, first thing in the morning, when I read and write and translate.

At the moment I'm working on a big translation of a Tamil classic from the 5th century, a book of poetry and wisdom, and also a non-fiction work on what it's like to be associated with a yurt.

Grammar and Creativity

But as a writer and a poet who is also a teacher I'll say that one of the things I love about talking about grammar and sharing grammar as a writer is that for me grammar is not a school subject. I mean we speak about it in school, but for me, grammar is something that I use every day. It's a tool with which I understand the inner workings of language.

I get quite excited about it because it's through the use of grammar and the insights that can come from studying grammar and from studying language that we find ourselves able to express ourselves more fully, deeply, persuasively, and movingly.

Bringing the Pieces Back Together

So everything that I do as a teacher and everything I try to offer as my contribution to Cozy Grammar is to find a way to bring those things together, to bring the knowledge of grammar or punctuation or spelling back into connection with the practice of writing.

And not just the practice of writing, but the possibility of writing enhancing other creative practices as a way of freeing our own voices. Freeing our capacity to express ourselves and to make our presence and our voices part of the wider conversation in the world.