At the beginning of the semester, one of my professors had us write about an English teacher we had in high school. We were simply supposed to write about our experience in the class and whether it was positive or negative and why. After she read all of our responses she said, "Wow, sounds like you all had the exact same teacher".
We all had an extreme disdain for English.
I always hated English in school. It's the same reason why I do not like my literacies class right now. As a science teacher, I understand that not everyone loves science. I understand not every one is good at it, and I try to meet each of my students on his/her own level. I never, I repeat, NEVER compare my students works to each other.
I had a teacher in high school who would always display the "best work" on her smart board for all the students to look at after we had all turned in whatever essay we were asked to write that particular week. We would all read the students sentences (of which it was always the same few select students), and then hear her praise the "brilliant student" who thought to put into writing whatever BS he was feeding her that week. And it was... BS, because if you deconstructed the sentences you would realize that they were actually saying nothing. That's what I do, by the way, I deconstruct. I'm a scientist.
I blame this teacher for my intense fear of English. I also blame the English teacher who accused me of cheating in the 7th grade, but thats a whole different story for a different day...
I also blame the teachers who made me do Socratic Circles day in and day out and graded us on "saying at least 3 things". Do you realize how miserable you made those days? Did you know that the entire time I could not focus on the discussion because I was so worried about saying those stupid 3 things, so I could get my stupid points.
And so, last week when we were asked to do a Socratic Circle in my literacies class I immediately broke into a cold sweat. I began racking my brain for what "thing" I was going to say. I was brought back to high school all over again, and not in a good way.
It puzzles me how I managed to ace every writing assignment in every college course, yet cannot receive a perfect score on a graduate level "literacies" course taught by a high school english teacher. Yet, all in the same, it does not puzzle me at all. After all, my college professors realized I wasn't an English major... somehow my graduate school teacher is still learning this.
Luckily, my experience with English in high school did not damper my skills or my passions that surround the world of literature. I still love to read, and could discuss any piece of literature with the best of them (just please, don't make me do it in a Socratic Circle format). I'm an avid writer (probably due to the fact that my mother is a writer), and although I may not have the skill of flowery words, or eloquent sentence structure.... I can make people laugh.
And sometimes I want to go back up to those teachers. The ones who assumed that because I couldn't tell the difference between a semi-colon and a comma, I was somehow doomed to a life of mediocrity. Who assumed that the brightest, most promising students were the ones who could write 5,000 words on the sentence structure of Nathaniel Hawthorne (too long...simply put in my mind). I want to tell them how miserable they made my English experience in high school.
For the ones who got it. Who realized that I would never BS my way through an essay, or spend hours looking for the perfect word to describe my intent. Who realized that my heart was in other content matter. Who understand that the content was far more important than flowery words, sentence structure, or grammar.
I want to say thank you.
Because, sometimes it's nice to have an essay not completely marked in red all over.
It is with my experiences in English, that I keep my students in mind. I continually ask myself what they must fear most in class: Is it being called on? Doing dissections? Or, possibly being forced to work in groups? It is also why I'm always aiming to make my classroom a comfortable environment, and am possibly the most accommodating teacher they've ever encountered. If my students are in fear in the classroom, then they have no room to learn.
And learning, no matter what form, or to what extent, is truly the matter of concern.