Slice 7

Sometimes when I think about my time in school, I get so angry. I remember English in seventh grade. Our writing was so bad that every Wednesday we had a writing prompt. One of them was to write about your favorite ice cream treat (treat may not have been the exact word). I’m a very picky, plane Jane eater, so I wrote about vanilla ice cream with sprinkles. That was deemed “not an ice cream treat,” and so my grade was knocked down. I also was yelled at because I didn’t dot my lower case i’s, and I didn’t put a line on top of and below the line of my capital i. So the i, I, and lowercase l were all pretty much the same. I never really heard anything about my actual writing…

In high school, I copied notes off of the blackboard everyday in history in 9th and 10th grades, copied notes from the overhead in 11th grade history, and listened to a lecture every day in 12th grade government. I still have no idea what went on in 9th grade English. The teacher was behind the partition for at least half the school year. Other grades it was read, answer questions, read answer questions… and I’m sure I missed the point in about 90% of what I read. 

Somehow, I still wanted to be a teacher. It was too late for me to declare in undergrad, but I am very happy with my history major. I intended to go the secondary social studies route, but chickened out at the last minute and applied to elementary programs. I still ended up getting my secondary history endorsement, and I know I need to move up in the coming years to middle or high school.

While I am not happy with my pre-college history classes, I think I am the most mad at my English ones. Apparently I LOVE to read. In a way, I always knew this. I just normally didn’t like school reading (except for 11th grade. I enjoyed those books, but I know there is a lot I didn’t “get”.)

After teaching in the primary grades for a year, I moved up to upper elementary. My district uses a basal, and that’s mostly what my kids knew. I can’t teach like that, so I started buying and reading YA lit. I LOVE IT. I thought back to that spring last night. I am currently reading Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Thinking back to the spring about two years ago, I remember really truly falling in love with reading again. I read When You Reach Me in one sitting, then got up and started Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli . Well, of course I had to get Love, Stargirl right after that. A few months later I had a connection so strong to Jacob Have I Loved that I couldn’t imagine putting it in my classroom library- it was so intense for me! I now am having experiences where I am able to recommend books to kids and pick out books for read alouds. I have kids who have never finished a book telling me about all the books they have read and loved this year, and what books do I recommend. It’s amazing, and it’s a part of my job that I really truly enjoy.

I think I am meant to be a social studies and language arts teacher. I just wish I had known that earlier!

7 responses

  1. Exciting! There are so many wonderful books to read and share with kids! It is the part of my job I love as well. Keep reading!

  2. There is so much power in authentic reading. Congrats to you on making that realization and for showing your students how engaging reading can be!

  3. I had similar High School experiences as you – even though I was enrolled in an “honors” high school program. I hated English classes – we had to deconstruct so many books to such a ridiculous degree, that I hated otherwise superior literature. I didn’t like history until I had the exceptional experience of taking a class from an amazing professor during a brief stint at an Ivy League school. Now – after 17 years as a 4th grade teacher – I know I LOVE books and love to read and love instilling this love in kids and LOVE history and think I should be a social studies and lang. arts teacher. Perhaps we should co-teach! 🙂

  4. At least you recognized your calling! Keep on teaching on 🙂

  5. I can’t believe your English teacher judged (& downgraded) you for the vanilla ice cream response. That’s terrible!

  6. I’m glad you found your calling – I’m sorry you didn’t have a great learning experience in your English classes, but you are a great teacher to be able to relate to YA Lit and share that with your students – who need to read for fun. Showing your students that you read the books they are interested in creates a community, and that is great teaching.

  7. I think you’re meant to be a teacher, too! I’m glad you didn’t let bad experiences sour you on school.
    Stargirl is one of my favorites, too.

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