Back in June 2010, I started a scary new transition from teaching to being a student. I remember being stricken with fear as I waited to hear back from Western Illinois University as to whether I’d be accepted into their English Graduate program.
Over three years later, here I am waiting with baited breath once again. This time I’ve reached the culmination of my Masters program, and I now await the news of whether my thesis project will be good enough to pass or if I’ll be forced to go back and do yet more work.
I started this beast of a project in August with an independent study course to gather my thoughts and some sources. Even by the end of that fall semester, I didn’t feel wholly confident in the task of crafting my thesis. January rolled around, and I was faced with writing a 50-55 page, two chapter and an intro project.
Despite my initial apprehension, tons of late nights, and weekends and breaks spent at the Bettendorf Public Library, I persevered and wrote a 67 page essay with a total of 55 sources.
I feel like despite all the added stress this project added to my life, it has opened up a lot of great doors and given me plenty of unmatched experiences.
First of all, I’ve gained so much new knowledge that I’ve been able to use in my daily teaching. I’ve taught several short stories and even a few novels in my AP English course that I would never have considered had considered without taking some interesting courses in American literature at Western. My research on Huckleberry Finn has opened my eyes to the way I approached the text this year and will aid me next year as well.
Not only have I found good content for my students to read, but I’ve completely changed the way I handle the teaching of writing. Thanks to Professor Baird’s great classes on writing, I’ve picked up some strategies that really work in the classroom. Perhaps I’ll dedicate a blog entry to some of these strategies and provide some useful links. For now, I’ll just comment on how much more writing my students had to endure this year and how much better writers they turned out to be. I used a lot of experimental writing activities and processes in my new Honors English III course this year, and after forcing them to do two semester portfolio projects and reflect on their own writing, I know that the new takes on teaching writing helped them grow.
The best part of the months and months of stress is the satisfaction that I have so many new career avenues opened up. This coming school year I’ll be teaching a dual-credit English 101/102 course through our local community college Black Hawk. After going to an adjunct faculty fair at the college, they also offered me to teach a Thursday night English 101 course. While it’s very intimidating to think about, I’m more than excited for this chance to expand my own teaching experience. Perhaps it will open more doors in the future.
So now I sit here twiddling my thumbs and waiting for that email that will decide the fate of the rest of my summer vacation. Let’s hope for good news!
And like usual, I leave you with a quote:
“It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others–and less trouble.”
– Mark Twain, Doctor Van Dyke speech, 1906