The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment

My mid-terms are due tomorrow.  No, I do not mean that my students owe me papers - I mean that my mid-term papers for MY classes as a student are due tomorrow. It is only 9:00pm, and I am finished! 

Finished midterms! Woo hoo!
I do not know why this is such a big deal to me, but it is.  A friend had told me that many of her classmates felt like the final project at the end of the first semester felt like this big achievement - as in, if they can get through that, they can get through anything - and there are definitely some of my colleagues who I can tell felt this way, but that project was a video tape of myself teaching and then a paper discussing it. This was so similar to, yet so much simpler than, the project I had to do to get my teaching credential, that it did not phase me. It was very easily. I did it early and happily volunteered to be the guinea pig and show my video in class a month before it was due. 

This semester is another story. I am taking two classes that have seriously challenged me. One is a research class. I am not good at formal research. I rarely assign it to students because I am terrible at it. This is a different kind of research though - action research. Basically, I become the researcher, my students subjects, and I conduct essentially an experiment on my students to see if my hypothesis is correct. We are not actually doing the research this semester, but rather learning how to do it and planning it. Next semester will be the actual experiment. Anyhow... so I had to write a proposal in which I basically outline the entire plan for my research. This was a major feat for me. I am committing to spend the next year drowning in this topic, so I have to love it. Fortunately, I found the idea of positive psychology, which I am completely absorbed in. Reading about it doesn't feel like work. It feels like... pleasure. Honestly. However, I had to figure out how to write about it in a way that was understandable. It was not easy. 

There were many obstacles in my battle. It is an almost scientific style of writing. I do not own this style, if that makes any sense. My brain has been conditioned to think in MLA format. Research is written in APA format. I am dying to capitalize those titles like you can't even imagine. But... it is done. And it is beautiful. I feel like I have a fantastic idea. Dare I say... a publishable idea?  Ooo, I am so excited.

My other final was essentially a basic description of how I teach writing. I worked on this one for about 6 weeks. I don't know why I found it so difficult, but I think it just felt like trying to fill a dixie cup of water from a fire hose. I teach writing every day. How do I explain that in 6-12 pages? I could have written a book (although I am not sure it would have been any good). At one point, I think it was 19 pages. I miraculously narrowed it down to the most important points and have exactly 12, plus cover and citations. Go me. 

I had a few other moments of accomplishment this week. I finally dragged myself to the doctor to admit that I cannot board a plane without feeling like a complete nut case. 45 minutes later (my doctor cares just a little bit too much about each patient) I was on my way out the door with a prescription for wonderful little pills that will get me through the flight and apparently have few side effects. I took one last night to make sure I don't react to them or anything, and I woke up feeling fine, actually refreshed, so this is a good thing. 

While waiting for my prescription to be filled at Target, I came across this beautiful sight on a shelf. Why is this such a beautiful sight? Because the Chicken Soup for the Soul book on the right has one of MY student's stories in it from one of MY assignments. And there was only one copy left on the shelf.  :-)  
In some small way, I like to think of this as a degree to which I make a difference in the world. Teens read this book. Teens who read my student's story will feel inspired to... well, keep living and believe that it does get better. I worked hard on that story with her. I read. I cried. I advised. She bravely cut almost half the content (a hard thing to do, I know) to make it more publishable. She polished. She submitted. My name might not be in that book, but I know it is in her heart, and that is all that really matters to me. 

Yes, this is a week of accomplishments. 

Now, I need to go finish all the other 10 million things I need to do to be ready for tomorrow. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. What a wondrous week you have had! Getting projects done is a terrific feeling; getting them done ahead of schedule, all the better. But how incredible it must feel to know that your mentoring has not only touched the life of your student, but will trickle down endlessly to all those who read her story. Priceless!