Wow! What can I say about another year of my life come and gone? It has been fast and slow, long and short and very, very colorful. I’ve learned new words like xenophile and soliloquy! I have grown up, but am still a child, and most of all I’ve learned to see the world as it really is.
My work this year has been a long and rather frustrating thing that made me a much stronger person. In the end it was much better than it began, more friendly, outgoing, and intelligent (or at least with an intelligent veneer.) It also reflects who I was and who I have become. The way I plan for (and complete) assignments has definitely been altered forever. Now I think that I actually have a scheduled time for homework as well as a prioritized agenda.
My writing has grown the most this year. I know this because I can read it! My voice (if I say so myself) has really come out this year. I got really good essay scores this year and I am really very proud of myself for that. One of the things that I had quite a bit of fun with was purposely swaying all of the topics to relate to The Beatles or The Monkees. I discovered by doing this that every single topic is inter-related. I learned (and the truth will set you free) that essays don’t have to be five paragraphs! I love that! I mean, this one is already three and I’m not even half way done. That is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my essay writing career!
Well, I’d have to say the fact that you can dance the Macarena to any song ever written was of the least value to my English skills (but helpful when I don’t know what to do at a dance). Another life lesson of little literary value (I love alliteration… and onomatopoeia… have you ever noticed that alliteration sounds like what it is?) was that I can make a small handful of fishy crackers last a whole class period even when that class is right before lunch! That was a fun lesson to learn, I can taste those crackers right now! These experiences (and many other silly lessons) have taken my mind off of much more serious lessons but they have also made my ninth grade year of English much more enjoyable.
My teachers are probably the single most important factor in my success. They lift you up, drag you down, and impact your life more than anyone else at school. My teachers have taught me many life lessons that were above and beyond any curriculum or teacher manual. They have shown me how to deal with stress, people I don’t like, and how to have fun! Not one of my teachers has left an empty space or any room to doubt them. Now, this doesn’t mean that I have liked all of my teachers all of the time, but sometimes that’s just because some of the lessons have been hard to take. If I don’t become famous, I want to be a history teacher. Much of that desire has been because of the great year I had in English this year!
The student has to want success and they need to be able to keep moving forward. If the student doesn’t work, they won’t pass. It’s that simple! Just because we were pushed harder than we’re used to it helped us a lot. If you continue on the same level, you will never progress.
My thinking has changed a lot over the course of this year because of challenges that I have had and because of events that shaped the way I see things. At the beginning of the year I thought that everything was peachy and that it was exactly how I wanted it to be. How could anything go wrong? Well, it did. My writing reflected this as my heroes changed and I evolved.
In the beginning of the year I was a ditzy, naïve, and curious child. Now my curiosity has been satisfied and I’d rather be regarded as regal and intelligent, avante garde. At the beginning of the year I was the ultimate Monkees’ fangirl and now I find music like that on The Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is more relatable. This has come with sophistication and growing up. But it is also a reflection of where I am in terms of challenges in my life too. As Peter Tork once said, “Pop music is aspirin and the blues are vitamins.” I think rock is like Tylenol some days. It dulls the pain if you listen to it long enough, but not physically. I think it’s more of a medication for the soul. My writing has really expanded to include this concept I think because of how much me and the music are intertwined.
I think that absences can reflect a lot about a student, but it depends on who the student is. I know that some days I get sick just because I don’t want to face something. It’s like a psychological thing. Some students cut class, and some don’t come so that they can get the attention from classmates when they return. Tardies are the same way. Some students try to get to class on time and fail. Some students show their apathy by being late on purpose. I honestly don’t know why I’m analyzing this.
If I were to start this class over again (or this whole year) I would do more of my work and be prepared for all the things that were flying toward me. I feel like I was sort of floating in space when this year started, and then when it got going things kept hitting me and I couldn’t see them because my helmet was painted on the inside with stars and moons and planets. I was dazzled by the view even though it wasn’t real. Finally, stark reality kicked in and finally I am able to see. But then, if I were starting over then I would have to go back to where I was so instead I think I’ll just keep moving one foot in front of another. Isn’t that the only way to make it? When you feel that you cannot step, angels will bear you up and you won’t fall. And if you do then you’ll be able to get up again.
If I were to get my resume I might hire me, depending on the job. Now, if it were for a burger joint I wouldn’t hire me. I fail at flipping anything on a grill. You name it; I will destroy it when I try to flip it. If I were a radio show host, I would totally hire me to help spin the tunes, and do research, bring drinks, etc. I would also hire myself if I was the CEO of Rhino entertainment. All they need is fresh ideas and I have thousands! Therefore, I don’t believe I’m suited for every job, but some.
Every day I do a free write. I believe that this keeps my writing brain fresh and also helps me to express my feelings to myself. It’s really important to know who you are and how you feel and by free writing everything comes out. My friends and I compare free writing to throwing up your thoughts onto paper (or to Microsoft Word). Some days this can be especially important because it is a way to deal with stress. It’s kind of like doodling for an artist, or noodling for a musician. These things are just ways of staying ‘sane’ whatever you want to define that as. Maybe so is school, but I don’t know what the real reason is.
Maybe they think that if we go through rigorous testing they can get new results that they haven’t seen and maybe we’ll be a more prepared generation than the last. At least the teachers aren’t teaching the same things as society though because the corruption in the world is blowing up in our faces constantly. This has created a generation of kids who think that they need each other at increasingly younger ages. I think watching Romeo and Juliet helped illustrate this concept of what we’re reverting to. The Baz Luhrmann version was shocking because you can relate to these teens way more than the other. In a way it makes it more real to us.
I think that reading Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451 was also a shocking look at reality. These studies have helped change my mind about some things. The way our people are heading is wrong and these texts (paired with Night last year) have really taught me something that’s very important. We need to fight and if we don’t, then no one will. It is a sad thought, but the stark reality in the world where we live. When the entire world is dark all it needs is a single light from you. When all have been defeated, you can rise again, and so can I. Beauty is born from the ashes and strength is beauty.
Another thing that I have learned this year is that internal beauty is more important than that seen from the outside. Some people who are very pretty can be the worst on the inside. It’s like biting into a rotten apple that is red and beautiful on the outside. In a way, it’s even more disappointing than realizing the rot as seen from the outside. It’s like running into something in broad daylight. You feel clumsy, embarrassed, and stupid whereas if it had been dark you would have been able to laugh it off. Something about human pride makes it hard to forgive ourselves for mistakes.
Why do you think that is? I believe it’s because when we see something clearly it begins to seem like it was so obvious the whole time while it may not have been. This is increasingly true when it involves another person and when you are forced to share a space with that person later it becomes nearly unbearable because you haven’t forgiven yourself. When you come out of it though, you become stronger than you ever thought you could be. This is how English class was for me this year. Painfully close to a person who I can’t trust myself around yet now I am strong enough to carry on a conversation with them. Strange how that works; changing from one minute to the next and time won’t slow down for you.
I remember at the beginning of the year when I dressed in different eras every successive day and you made me feel so special by commenting on it. Someone noticed! Then I ran out of eras to choose from (based on my wardrobe) and you still found something nice to say to me every day at the door. That’s something that every teenager needs. Someone just to say how wonderful they are because let’s face it, parents can’t do that. Parents have the responsibility to chastise and correct. When life gets tough it’s good that people can be like you in that respect, loving enough to notice another person’s hard days and insecurities.
I remember when we got to invent things, how exciting that was! We were being encouraged to be creative! No more being like everyone else! That was fun. The amount of group work in this class was something rare and I enjoyed it. Most teachers don’t encourage us to talk about things and discuss our ideas. That was very helpful for me because I love to share and that’s how I figure out what to write. Talking things out is a very helpful way of getting your imagination to work again. Not many people understand that idea but you do. Really, even though this class wasn’t always my favorite, you made it that much more exciting and every day was a new chance to give it my all.
Thank you for preparing us for next year. We all complained about it in and out of class, but that’s because no one else has cared enough to help us get there as fast as it’s actually happening. I would not be ready if not for your reminding us every so often because I had no idea what anything would be like. Thank you for telling us not to stress about ‘when we grow up’ because it seems like everyone else is just pushing us toward that day when we’ll be another face in the crowd and we’re not ready yet. There’s a reason that we’re still in school! You helped slow down time for one school year of just nine months, but that was just long enough to get it all into perspective.
Until now everything’s been moving so fast that everything going by was a blur that I blocked out. This year has gone by slower and more definitely than any in school before; because of your class. To be able to feel every day and to remember all these things is really great! I have had time to process my life instead of watching it as a movie on the big screen.
There are some days when your class was the reason I decided to go to school, and there have been some day when it’s been the reason I didn’t want to go. Through the good and the bad though, it was one of my refuges. For 45 minutes (on a regular day) I could forget about the world and all of my problems. Thinking about it, I now realize how much this class meant to me. Now I’m not ready to leave even though I was when I began writing this paper. Strange! I’m so ready to leave Jr. High School, but I’m not ready for the high school am I? Well, I will just have to take it in stride and remember all of the lessons from ninth grade English class with Mrs.