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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final Thoughts for the Year!

I am overly critical of myself. I find myself at the end of each school year wishing I had done an assignment differently or spent more time on a particular skill. It is what attracts me something like Crossfit. The competition and the need to do better each time. I get home and keep thinking I could have gone faster or lifted more. When I clipped my toe and had my first injury on the box jump I felt so frustrated at myself that I hadn't just jumped higher. It's the same quality that lead me to finally give up the cake side business. I would constantly scrutinize and pick apart the details. When I felt totally stressed and near tears my husband would say "it's just cake" in which I responded "no it isn't." It is never "just cake" it's a moment of a birth or anniversary. A celebration of a wedding or a baby. These moments happen once and I want it to be special. That's how I feel about my class. No matter my personal issues these students only get one opportunity to have 10th grade English (that's not exactly true, but you get the idea). While I know their whole future doesn't hinge on the teaching of The Scarlet Letter I have a responsibility to give them what they need to move forward.
Reaching back in the vault here are a few of my favorites:

At the end of the day though I have to know this: that I have done my best! I hope that as my students leave my classroom they can feel the love I have for the literature  and how much I really enjoy interacting with them each day. Here is what I sent my students as my parting words. And of course in Mrs. Barnes style it is very short and to the point :)

Words of Wisdom (or an attempt at wisdom) from Mrs. Barnes
1. NEVER EVER use “I think” “I believe” “In my opinion” “In this essay I will write about” in any paper!
2. Weather/season are always more than just about the weather in literature (winter –Ethan Frome, storms-Julius Caesar, etc).
3. You can do more than you think you can do.
4. We are too mature to use transitions like: First, second, finally and in conclusion. Show off what you know!
5. You have probably learned more than you realize from the discussions in class.
6. Connection to meanings aren't the devil. They are actually good practice in seeing the big picture in all of life.
7. Never call authors by their first name when writing. You don’t know them like that. (Always use their full name the first time)
8. If someone has pen on their face…just tell them…they may need to call their mom.
9. You may actually find reading enjoyable! Give it a chance.
10. Always cite your quotes…ALWAYS! If you didn't say it someone else deserves credit for it.
11. In reading comprehension questions remember the rule of thumb to first establish the tone of the piece – then eliminate answer choices based on the tone of the piece. (Passage positive/answers positive).
12. Never underestimate the power of your words on those around you. You have the power to lift people up and tear them down all in one short breathe.
13. The Scarlet Letter really isn't as bad as you may believe it to be. By that standard neither is Great Expectations. Pip and Hester can be alluded to in a lot of your future literary conversations. Use them!
14. Characters’ names are important. Your parents thought a lot about what your name means just as author’s plan out character names. Because of this take the extra effort to spell them correctly.
15. Reading isn't stupid…Stupid people don’t read.
16. Good writing may be one of the strongest tools in your arsenal for the future.
17.  It isn't as bad as you think it will be if you just get started.
18. Projects aren't about artistic ability, but are more about your ability to see an idea in a totally new way. That is what the world will want from you…a creative way of seeing the same things everyone else sees.
19. Never use words like “good” or “bad”…they don’t say anything. Be specific.
20. If you didn't answer the “Why” or “How” you didn't do your job!
21. Tone is not a device…Devices get across tone!
22. Logos, Pathos, and Ethos can’t stand along! Something has to get across the appeal! (Scary movies are scary because of…)
23. Try speaking to people you don’t know in class. You may find they have really interesting things to say!
24. BE careful with the words “Always” and “Never”(forgive me for my usage J). - They can be fighting words!
25. You will be surprised what you already know next year in AP! If you are going on to regular be a smarty pants!
26. Don’t just drop quotes in your writing. Give context- who said what where?
27. If you don’t know…don’t let them know you don’t know. Speak with confidence and you might find they believe you anyway.
28. I find it a great myth that people can only be “Math/Science” or “History/English” you can like numbers and letters too!
29. Literature is not the study of cold words from dead white men on paper- it is the study of our human condition. How we press on against life’s obstacles, how we handle life’s failures, and how love and hope can rise above all else.
30. Be responsible for yourself. In the end you are the only one who holds the power for your success or failure.
31. Have a sense of humor about yourself! It makes life much more enjoyable!
32. Comments on your essays are not personal. They are really there to make you a better writer. See comment # 16.
33. Don’t just use imagery, diction, and foreshadowing on connection to meaning charts. It looks like you couldn't find anything.
34. Each of you are cared for and thought about.
35. If you have a problem it is most easily received when you also have a solution.