Winter Quarter, Week 1

I love Week 1 of class. No, I don't. I always wind up feeling overwhelmed. Part of that feeling comes from the fact that I take three classes. I would never, ever recommend taking 3 classes while working full time, unless you absolutely have to get your degree in a hurry. If you were wondering, yes, I do. I also was offered a fellowship (read: money) to take three at a time. Although thanks to a communication problem in my specific program, this is the last quarter I will be taking three courses--and since it's the school's fault, I still get the fellowship even when I drop down to two next quarter and one in the fall.

Being sick with an excruciating sinus headache most of last week didn't help Week 1 go that well, either. But I got my assignments done--I'll be doubling up on my reading this week to catch up--and I still managed to cantor for two Masses, sign the lease for my new apartment, bake cookies to take to my brother's house for a welcome home dinner for my sister when she returned from Rome today, fend off nearly getting dis-invited from said dinner while baking (but that's another story for another time), and enjoy a much needed catch-up call with a certain gentleman this weekend.

The interesting twist this quarter is that I'm taking two education courses and only one information science course. I'm still not completely comfortable with the education world, its methods and its language. Which is why I did not become a teacher immediately after getting my B.A. 10+ years ago and am more comfortable with the idea of school librarian.

One of the education courses centers around literacy education, and we had to write a reflection about our literacy and our learning. I thought I'd share mine.

My parents tell me they will never forget the moment they realized I could read. Apparently I was in the kitchen while they were making lunch one day, and I read the label of the mayonnaise jar aloud to them. They were stunned, because I was three and a half years old. Certainly a number of things contributed to my early literacy: My parents read to me and my siblings, my older brother most likely was beginning to learn to read, we watched educational programming on PBS such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and my parents themselves were (and still are) avid readers.

When I attended parochial school (K-8), I loved learning about Language Arts. I would read the entire Voyages in English textbooks, even the parts not covered in class. Sentence diagramming and analysis would make everyone in the class except me groan. Fill in the adjective? Let me at it! I have to admit, though, the early days were not fun. I remember sitting through phonics lessons frequently bored and unable to understand why my classmates couldn’t read, and sometimes I would “act up.”

One thing that disappointed me was that I tended to get “average” scores in reading comprehension on standardized tests. The other challenge was when I got to high school. It was a college preparatory school, and while I had no problem with creative writing, critical/analytical papers did not come easily for me. The paper that finally gave me that “breakthrough” was an analysis of “The Pardoner’s Tale” from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. My teacher gave me some much needed guidance to complete that paper, and I gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my writing that year.

Outside of class, I also received a lot of encouragement from a classmate (now deceased) who read voraciously, and we had a love of science fiction and fantasy in common. I started writing a novel around the age of fifteen, and when my classmate showed such great interest in my work and discussed it with me during our senior year, it was a tremendous boost. I plan that when I publish my novel at last, the dedication page will bear her name.

Certainly as a school librarian I will be involved with students’ literacy education. When I teach them, I hope that I will be able to leave behind that feeling of not understanding why they can’t read, and instead I will remember all the things that contributed to my success in reading and writing, particularly the positive attitudes of my parents and teachers. I’d also like to incorporate some peer encouragement, because the experience with my classmate in high school helped form me as a writer.

(Yeah, I'm not exactly thrilled that a lot of present-day education methods involve so much touchy-feely stuff, but it makes for good blog-fodder, no?)


Amy Giglio said…
I loved Voyages in English, too!! Must be a Catholic school thing.

You lost me at sentence diagramming though. i always disliked that!

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