Sunday, November 09, 2008

Yes, I Like Being a Student

Yesterday morning, I went with a few other English teachers from Christian School to a workshop in San Jose. It was about teaching writing, and specifically working on timed, "on-demand" writing - the reasons why we do it, ways to teach improvement, etc. It was actually awesome to get new ideas and strategies from someone who's actually used them effectively in the classroom.

The most interesting thing, though, was the way the seminar began. Since we were talking about on-demand writing, the instructor said, we were going to start by doing some writing ourselves. She handed out an essay prompt and had us get out paper. "Are we turning this in?" someone asked. "Yes," the instructor replied. She told us we would have 45 minutes to respond to the prompt, and then told us to begin.

I started taking notes on the prompt, planning out my essay. I wondered if she were really going to have us write or if this were just a simulation. But as I planned my essay, I got excited to write it, realizing that this was going to be interesting. As I finished my outline and started writing the actual essay itself, she told us that we had 40 minutes left. "Piece of cake," I thought. Then she said, "Okay, stop what you're writing and draw a line below it. Underneath, write what you're feeling right now."

I stopped and wrote: "EXHILARATED! I feel challenged and intrigued, like I'm getting a good mental workout. I should write essays more often..." Then she asked us to share our thoughts with someone nearby. I talked to M., the other sophomore English teacher at Christian School with me. When I told her what I'd written and how excited I was to be writing, she said, "You're weird, Lara. I feel stressed out and nervous, and not at all excited by the prospect of having to sit here for 45 minutes and write something for someone else to judge." I was all, "Really? Oh..."

The instructor called for our attention again, explaining that most of us probably felt nervous, anxious, stressed out, and unhappy. "Although," she said, "there are probably a few of you in here who liked the idea of writing, and those people are probably overachievers who were always overachievers in school as well."

... Ahem.

Okay, fine, so I was a bit of an overachiever. And okay, maybe I still am. But that's just because I like being a student - I like learning and writing and discussing. As the workshop went on, I asked a number of questions and provided my opinions and comments when the class was asked to participate. By the workshop's end, I was the one "student" in the class whom the teacher knew by name. Goody-goody much? Okay, maybe, but I'm okay with that.

What kind of student were/are you? Goody-goody? Overachiever? Or were you the rebel / trouble-maker / class clown type?


BetteJo said...

Geez, I was the one that wasn't there. There are very few classes from high school that I can remember, much less remember fondly. Kind of sad I guess.

tpiglette said...

I was definitely the goody-goody/overachiever type, although moreso in my math and science classes (no surprise there).

And um... down with clowns? ;)

Anonymous said...

I was a good student in all my classes. Yet despite being an avid reader and, to some extent, writer, I rarely liked English class. A clear pattern emerged starting my freshman year of H.S.: whenever I enjoyed an English assignment, it would receive a poor grade; and when I just ground through it with workmanlike grit, a good one. I readily confess that the stuff I wrote with enjoyment -- usually under the heady influence of some writer I had just discovered (I shudder to think what my essays would have looked like had I known of D.F. Wallace back then) -- was bad and did not belong in a five-paragraph, two-quotes-to-the-'graph, grabber-then-thesis, don't-forget-the-conclusion essay; and yet I look back with (probably arrogant) pride that I had the gumption to deviate from programmatic five-paragraph b.s. just because I wanted to.

Fortunately, I could both do well in and consistently enjoy math and science classes.

Lara said...

tpiglette - WORD.

Lisa said...

Ummmm. Yeah. I'm exactly like you. I've done the same thing in a workshop and I also got all excited about writing. Every now and again I'll write with my students and I will literally tell them they can't interrupt me because I get so into it!!!

Mrs. Chili said...

I was (am) an earnest, yet quiet overachiever. I don't jump up and down with my hand in the air ("Oooh! OOOH! Pick ME!!") but I do rock the assignments and do my best to make sure that my professors know that I'm there, engaged, and ready to do the work.

Natalie said...

I was definitely the goody-goody overachiever type.

Anonymous said...

Goody-goody overachiever here.

10 years later, I still am.

And proud of it.

Anonymous said...

Totally the overachiever. :-) But I can't help myself, and I'm still like that even now.

Janlac said...

Definitely, I am one of the
students that goody-goody like tpiglette, browneyedgirlie and Natalie.
Math is my favorite subject and I am proud of it...