Category Archives: Teaching

I’m not a good blogger.

I haven’t been a very good blogger this semester. I’ve been so busy with student teaching and the rest of my life that this blog has fallen by the wayside. The only thing I feel like I can offer the blogosphere right now is random fragments from my life.

One of the things I love most about teaching high school is how hilarious my students are. A few excerpts…

  • “Do you read books? Like, real books?”
  • “Is Transformers a fairy tale?”
  • “In fairy tales, the popular guy stays popular. For example, I was born handsome and was popular in kindergarten. Now, I’m even better looking and I’m still popular.”
  • “Is Shakespeare kind of like Tyler Perry?”
  • “Why were there lions in Rome?”
  • “Is Rome still a country?”
  • “Have you ever seen a wild hog? What about a domestic hog? … I have a 200 pounder we can put you in a pen with and he’ll just walk up to you and sniff you.”

I love teaching!

I started student teaching full-time Monday, and even though I am EXHAUSTED, I LOVE what I’m doing to the point of being obsessed. I am teaching 4 50-minute periods of 10th grade English and 1 50-minute period of 11th grade AP Language. It’s going to be a couple weeks before I take over and start teaching: right now I’m just helping with things like calling roll, checking homework, and I’m working on learning my students’ names and building relationships with them. My students are amazing! They are so funny and kind. I am so blessed to get to spend every day for the next 10 weeks (well, now 9 1/2 weeks) with students who are happy, funny, and respectful.

Review of A Farewell to Arms

My undergraduate degree is in English Literature, and while I had English classes I rarely read for fun because I was so busy with reading for school. Now I’m working on a Masters in Secondary Education, and while that also requires a lot of reading, almost none of the things I read are novels, so I’ve gotten back into reading for pleasure. Typically I read for a little while at night before I go to bed.

I used to read so many books with “literary merit” when I was an undergrad, but now that I’m reading for pleasure, I find myself reading few classics. The books I have read over the past few months have been, for the most part, great, but far from the classics I was taught to snobbishly prefer. There’s a debate among high school English teachers about whether we should assign classics or more modern books. The classics people argue that classics are that for a reason–the have value that transcends time and reading them develops our students intellectually and culturally in ways that non-canonical reading material cannot. The other side of the argument is that most people find most classics unenjoyable, and that by assigning these to our students we are killing their love for reading. Right now, my opinion falls in the middle of this argument. I do believe that classics are important to present to our students and, if done right, they can be enjoyable. But I also plan on assigning more modern books to my students, because so many of them are good too, and my students will likely enjoy reading them more than they do classics. I want my students to love reading above all, even if the things they read aren’t prestigious in a academic snob sense.

Long story short, I decided because of my background (English major) and future (English teacher) that it was time to read a classic again. So I picked up A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in 1929 and tells the story of a romance between an American in WWI who is an ambulance driver for the Italian military and an English nurse also working in Italy.

It is considered a classic for a reason, and if you do a quick Google search you can find many people raving about how wonderful it is. I’m not questioning this novel’s literary merit with what I’m about to say, I’m just expressing a personal opinion. I didn’t like it. I struggled through Hemingway’s sparse prose which really lacks wordplay and descriptions. The story itself did not keep make me want to keep reading–I kept reading because I wanted to finish the book so I could move on to something else. The ending left me disappointed as well. I don’t plan on assigning this book to my students or recommending it to anyone. I’m not saying it does not have literary merit or good qualities, I’m just not a fan.

I’m still in my pajamas, but…

I’ve filled out several job applications this morning. And let me tell you what, applications for teaching jobs are looooooooong.

I feel like a greasy zombie right now.

Talking to the Fifteen-Year-Old Me

Right now my student teaching internship is in a tenth grade American Literature classroom, and I’m teaching a unit on how to write research papers. My host teacher has been gracious and trusting enough to let me teach for the past week. I’ve learned a lot through just this short period of time.

The short list:

  1. Developing a learning community in your classroom is essential. If students don’t respect themselves, each other, and you as the teacher, good luck getting anything valuable done.
  2. When you see a problem, nip it in the bud.
  3. Teaching is exhausting. Right now I’m only teaching one 90 minute class a day, and when I finish and get home I am ready to pass out.
  4. Correcting papers (specifically papers in which students are learning how to format works cited entries in MLA format) takes forever. But figuring out what we need to spend more time going over in class is invaluable, so it must be done.

Today, as we’re talking about how to organize notecards and write papers, one of my students asked me what grade I want to teach. I answered that I’d prefer tenth or eleventh grade, but I like all of high school. Another student then asked me why I wanted to teach high school. I paused before I started answering her question, quickly debating in my head whether or not this was a waste of classtime. I decided to answer her, because part of garnering students’ respect for me and developing a learning community is taking the time to learn about each other so that we can care about each other.

I want to teach high school because when I was that age, I had no idea of how much potential I had to do great things. I had no idea that I was intelligent or good at English. I had no idea of what I would do after high school. I just hadn’t thought ahead yet. I was so focused on my social life (or making my non-existent social life better) that I did not care about any of the subjects I studied in school. I thought that I wanted to teach elementary school, become a mom, and that I would get married shortly after graduating from college and basically be a career mommy. There’s nothing wrong with that– it just was not the path for me. And I’m glad that it’s not the path I took. But the point is, I never would have realized my potential if not for adults along the way who gave me a greater vision for what my life could be.

I told my students today that they may not realize it now, but what they want at fifteen is not what they will want for the rest of their lives. Right now they need to lay the foundation to achieve greater things if that’s what they choose for themselves later on down the road.

If I could go back in time, I would tell the fifteen-year-old me a few things.

You’re NOT fat or ugly. You’re perfect the way you are, stop hating yourself.

You are extremely intelligent and funny. Have more confidence in yourself.

Pay attention in English class and put time into enjoying the things you read. Seek out more things to read in your free time.

In a few years, everyone you are so worried about impressing right now will be out of your life and you will only see them again when you come home for Christmas break, and even then you won’t give a damn what they think about you.

If a boy does not like you back, it’s his loss.

Your life will not resemble a Kenny Chesney song in any way, shape, or form. Nor is it supposed to.

Don’t let high school girl drama get to you.