In the words of the great poet, Jay Z, “allow me to (re)introduce myself, my name is Hov,” but not really, it’s actually Josh Ziegler (Mr. Z). I’ll be pedaling words and warping minds (only kidding…but not really) in the English Department here at Park High. I graduated from the Harvard of Southwest Montana, The University of Montana Western, with a degree in English education in 2014. I’m currently a graduate student at Montana State University and will earn a master’s degree in comparative literature and memoir studies this May. My teaching experience casts a wide net as I’ve taught in college lecture halls, rural high schools, and have been a guest lecturer at numerous creative writing retreats.
As a teacher, I disagree with the misconception that reading and writing are solitary acts. Yes, we often complete these tasks alone, but they necessitate community and subsequent collaboration to form meaning as well as a broader understanding of craft and content. Writing is not a “skill” we inherit at birth. The process of composition is often messy--if not ugly. And in acknowledging this fact, I give my students agency to produce subpar writing. I find that many folks are afraid to produce a first draft because they expect perfection with their first hack. Nobody produces a clean draft the first time around. Nobody. I’d bet the shoes on my feet that Hemmingway’s first drafts sucked. So, it’s ok to be really, really bad the first time around. The true work, and learning, takes place as we revise with our peers and study the flaws within our work. Our interaction with texts requires a similar collaboration as we all bring unique perspectives to the table, and as a result, those experiences enrich our understanding of the works we engage with throughout my course. My students should feel as though it is ok to struggle, that their perspective carries real weight, and that in the end they will improve as readers, writers, and communicators.
In my spare time I hang out with my wife, Korin, who is waaay out of my league, and our wonderful infant son, Rowan, who conveniently happens to be my best buddy (he has no choice in the matter). I also work as a contributing writer for publications such as Meat Eater, The Drake, Fly Fish Journal, Anchored, and American Angler. And when the mood strikes, or I’m feeling grumpy, I’ll take the red pen to manuscripts as a freelance editor. When unattended time plops into my lap, I tend to read, go fishing, or write bad short stories.