Dear Dr. Shea,
Here we are, almost at the end of the road that has been our semester and what a road it has been; full of twists and turns and a trip or two off the beaten path. I have learned quite a lot about myself this semester and I feel that it has been due to the amount of time we have spent asking ourselves and each other the hard questions. Digging deep is what we must do if we are to be effective future educators. Our students will expect us to know what we are talking about and practice what we preach and this class has made me promise myself to do that. One of the most wonderful aspects of this semester has been the writing that we have done in our writer’s notebook. The three pieces I chose to include in my portfolio are pieces that I wouldn’t have written 5 months ago. The first piece that you’ll come across as you scroll through my Portfolio is called “Down the Street” and I wrote it late one night after I had found out my grandmother wasn’t doing well. I had started it off like I was going to write a poem, but really wanted to push myself to do something different-create a picture in another sense. One of my goals this semester was to write out of my comfort zone and I feel like I accomplished that well in this piece. It was about someone I care very much for and I felt like I was able to convey my emotions without hitting my reader over the head with them. It was the piece of writing I was most proud of this semester.
The second work you will come across titled “Citysong” is a piece that I had the most trouble with. I think it was because I wanted to try out a specific genre. This piece was inspired by Paul’s mentor text when he introduced the idea of flash fiction. I had experienced this beautiful moment in the city about a month or so prior and knew I wanted to write about it without knowing how. Poetry is my go-to but I wanted this to be different…and it is. I’m happy that I tried something new and I like that I can continue to go back and revisit it. It is certainly a work in progress.
The third piece I chose to include is a poem that I called “Places to Place Things” and I had written it when I was in kind of a bad mood. I wasn’t the happiest with the outcome. I think it was one of those situations in which you’re just not pleased with anything, but to my surprise, it got a lot of good peer reviews. So that’s why I decided to include it here, to remind myself never to walk away and dismiss something.
Some of my favorite class activities included the mentor texts. These will be tools that I carry with me into my own classroom someday. I also really enjoyed being able to gain some insight into my peers’ view of writing and what they find useful. I looked forward to the mentor text part of class everyday. They lead into another of my favorite parts of this class which was our daily free-writes. I had always meant to make myself write about any ol’ thing for a set amount of time, just to have the practice, and this class really helped me be able to make a habit out of writing. My earlier free-writes were very forced and I remember having a hard time doing them in class for a few weeks. I would sit there for a good minute or two trying to think of something that I knew I would LIKE rather than just letting it flow out of me. My later free-writes have become less constrained as I figured out that free-writing is supposed to be free. It may not always be something I am the most proud of, but it’s mine and it’s practice and it’s room to grow. I would urge you to always include this in your writing class. I would also suggest that you keep the mini-lesson as it really focuses on the skills that we will need to develop as we teach in a classroom. I really enjoyed the multi-genre project as well in the sense that it opened my eyes to new ways to use technology in the classroom. I might even go a little further with it, having students research how real teachers are implementing these things within their classrooms.
This class met my expectations in that we did a lot of writing and I’m glad of that. I came into this class expecting to grow as a writer and I have, indeed. I would have liked to have learned a little more about standards and how they are implemented in the classroom setting as the more and more I keep up with education news, the more I see teacher struggling with these standards-especially English CCS’s. I think my strengths in this class were really displayed in our class discussions and our group activities. I interact well with others and highly value the opinions of everyone in our class so it made for extremely informative discussions and broadened my views of writing and teaching. I think my weaknesses pertained more to researching. This semester was full of 4 intensive English classes total and has left little time to accomplish everything I have needed to accomplish, so there have been things in each of my classes that have had to take a backseat at one point or another and that really frustrates me. For this reason, I would give myself a grade of 85% according to our rubric. I feel that I grasp the essential questions of our class and the theories we have spoken about. However, I feel my execution could have been better throughout the semester as a whole. I have grown as a writer in that I have made writing a habit and it has become a bigger part of my life. I have taken risks in this class by submitting my work for publication, reading at Poetry Aloud, and writing in different genres. I have demonstrated excellence in this class through my interactions with my peers.
As far as questions I wish you would have asked this semester, I wish you would have asked us who we would like to work with for the WPP. My student, Nathan Longenecker, has been as helpful as he could be with an extremely busy schedule. And I would give him a B as a student of mine. He has demonstrated skill as a writer and an incredible interest in the subject. However, he has displayed somewhat of a lack of consistency, probably due to his busy schedule. It has been hard to have any real conversation with him over the computer and even harder (impossible) to set up a time to meet. I feel like if I had gotten to work with a student of my chosen in an actual classroom setting, I might have had a little more to go on.
Overall, this class has been a highly valuable experience and one that I will remember fondly in the years to come. I have a plethora of information to take with me in my teacher toolbox because of my peers and my professor. I couldn’t possibly name just one person who has influenced me most as I could name several and take up five more pages explaining to you why they have impacted me so much. Thank you for a great semester, Dr. Shea!