When I first started out in college I was sure that I wanted to be a teacher. I was sure that I wanted to teach English and I was positive I was never going to change majors. I’m not going to lie I did think about changing majors. I did think about just becoming a lit. major, move to some remote location and write book reviews for a living (I think that is every lit. major’s dream), but I stuck with it because I didn’t see a purpose in that. I want to make a difference in kid’s lives and even if they still hate English after I teach them it won’t matter because ultimately I am there for them not for me.
This might be the end of the semester and this course, but for me it is just the beginning of a long life full of kids. It really truly is wonderful when a passion and a career come together. I love kids. I love English. I love the idea of being able to teach them someday a subject I am passionate about. That dream isn’t that far enough considering if all goes well I will be student teaching next spring, which is a terrifying thought. However, I feel much more prepared to teach writing then I was a semester ago. Honestly before this course I hadn’t given much thought to teaching writing. I’m not a huge fan of writing and would prefer to spend my days reading, but being able to express yourself on paper is a wonderful feeling. I just finished writing a critical essay for another course, and it was a lot of fun. I had the option to do a more creative paper, but I went for the critical because I wanted to be challenged. I wanted my voice to be heard, and that’s what I want for my students.
My favorite part of college so far was my semester I took Shakespeare, because I had to write so many critical essays, but in each and every single one of them I made my voice heard. I was told I had to write about a certain play, make sure it was argumentative, but I could what choose what I argued about. It was the best feeling in the world because my voice was being heard, and I hadn’t felt that kind of power over my own writing in a very long time. It all starts with choice, and if I have learned anything this semester it is that student’s need choice. They also need to be able to have their own voice when writing. I don’t want my students to write for me I want them to write for themselves.
If I have enjoyed reading one person’s blog this semester it has been Jessica’s. She has great voice and from what she has told us she had great English teachers as well. English teachers that encouraged voice in her writing and read aloud contemporary lit. as well. It has definitely been a joy (haha) reading the thejoyouslifeofjess.
I learned so much in this class and I cannot honestly fit it all into one blog post. We started off the semester talking about the history of writing and honestly at the time I didn’t see the point in it. Writing has a history like everything else so what? It honestly wasn’t until I started researching écriture feminine that I found out the history of writing matters. It matters a whole lot. It doesn’t matter to just women, but anyone who has written out of the canon because they aren’t old dead white guys. History is my other passion and I get pretty angry when someone says no one else in the history of blah blah, did this or that. Well honey they did so get over it. The same goes for writing. History repeats itself, a lot (just read the Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson), and it is important to recognize those cycles in order to know where people are coming from and where they are going. We need to know our history in order to change the future which is why we also studied contemporary practices in writing.
I studied writer’s notebooks because as a student I was never encouraged to keep one. I love my writer’s notebook and it is a way for me to vent my creativity. The one blog I kept coming back to however was Eli’s English-Only is A Problem because I didn’t know schools enforced English-Only rules. My advisor/professor at my community college told us about schools that encouraged bilingual teaching and how the waiting list was so long for these schools because parents wanted their students learning two languages. It just shocked me that students from another country aren’t encouraged to speak their native language. I understand the push to make it so students are able to communicate with their teachers and peers but being bilingual is simply incredible. Why would anyone encourage you not to be bilingual or share your native culture/language? I had a friend tell me that she overheard a teacher telling some girls (they were from Thailand, I think) “English only”, when they were chatting with each other in their native tongue. These girls weren’t even allowed to speak to each other in their own tongue and as a human being that makes me angry. Isn’t one of the rights of this country freedom of speech or does that only apply when you are speaking English?
Looking back over this post I realized how much I learned, but I dreaded this class when I left after the first day. I was confused because the rigid structure of the typical classroom was not there and I so wanted it to be. I’m so thankful it wasn’t but at the time I longed for the familiar. Dr. Miller warned us it wasn’t going to be easy (changing our mindset), but he knew he couldn’t teach us how to teach writing if he didn’t give us room to explore our own voice. I know I am still going to struggle teaching writing but I feel better equipped then I was a semester ago.