Dear Dr. Jones,
Overall so far, I am glad I am a part of this course, and based on what I have already learned about teaching reading through writing, I know this class will benefit me in many ways. I enjoy the structure of this course, the texts have been helpful in my learning process, and I find it refreshing to have new and different assignments compared to those of other courses. In addition to learning many things to help me as a teacher, I have learned a great deal about myself as an individual and as a writer. Prior to this class, I did not think about reading and writing as being so interrelated. I knew both were equally as important and I understood the general avenues to teach each, but I have learned there is so much more than that.
I have appreciated all the writing and reflecting we have been assigned to do as a part of this course. As tedious as writing can be, it has always been an outlet for me, and never before have I been able to use it as part of a reflecting and learning process as I have in this course. The writing we have done as a part of class has allowed me to truly think about the readings, discussions, my teaching practice, my ideas, my life. Through creating a blog, I have been able to think and rethink about topics in class as well as worldly ideas and how those things relate to me as an individual and as an educator. On a day-to-day basis, I often don't get that time to reflect, and I knew it was important but know now how crucial it is for growth, success, etc.. I would consider myself an over-thinker. Some days that's a positive thing, other days it's quite negative. In my writing, I find myself analyzing things in my head but not putting it to paper, which is what would cause the best kind of reflection, but never happens because of some sort of fear that surfaces; even if I know the assignment is about my own learning process, I think I have this fear that I am wrong and keep ideas to myself, which I know could easily limit me. (Funny though, that I feel comfortable expressing myself in our text-based discussions on Moodle, but feel more insecure with my thoughts in my blog and my genre project writing). I think it's an interesting concept, considering I would counsel my students against doing such a thing because I know how much they could grow if they didn't. I feel that by the end of the semester, through continual reflection and genuine, authentic thinking during my writing, I will improve in this area, becoming more comfortable not just with my own thoughts but with other people seeing them.
I value the texts we have been working with this semester so far because of all the instructional strategies and activities we have learned about through them. Learning from Hicks (2009) about author's craft and the MAPS heuristic has opened my eyes to the writing process in many new ways, to help both my ability to teach my students to be better, more purposeful writers, as well as improve my own writing. I genuinely appreciate Hicks' (2009) website recommendations for blogs, wikis, RSS, and photo essays; the sites I have gone to I can see using with my students or using personally. Hicks' (2009) ideas regarding consistently turning traditional assignments to digitally-based assignments is extremely helpful as well as eye-opening because so often teachers feel limited or think there are no other options, when in reality there is ALWAYS an alternative. Turning something as traditional as a memoir and making it into a podcast, or having students create a blog about an action research project with photo-sharing are new, authentic ways to help students become more creative in their thinking and feel true ownership over their work. I know it's a common topic of discussion that there is no time for technology or it's better to stick with traditional forms of instruction but I don't think that could be any farther from the truth. I have also very much appreciated Tompkins' (2012) intricately detailed text regarding the widespread but underused amount of options students have in their writing. I look forward to creating assignments where students can use all genres in their reading and writing, helping them to learn about the writing process, about the content in which they're writing, and especially themselves as creative writers. One of my biggest fears is holding my students back from their potential and I have come to realize how easy it is, through even just the use of teaching genres, to help students succeed.
I'm having a difficult time this semester balancing schoolwork and life. It's always unfortunate to me that I have so many pressures put on me by work, school, and a million other things that I am unable to focus on school as much as I want to. I am in my last two semesters of grad school, and even though it's crunch time, 80% of the time I feel like checking out. I know it's pure exhaustion, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or all three at once. I know time management, motivation, and endurance are all things that need to be at their peak to keep from feeling defeated, however those things have not been coming easily. I honestly enjoy the content of this course, and enjoy the assignments, but always feel so overwhelmed especially by the idea of clinic, my TARP, my portfolio, and many other things that I just have a hard time giving it my all. I am continually working on this by setting short term goals and organizing priorities so I can give focus to each thing. I have a higher disappointment pressure in myself than anyone else could place on me, and feeling like a failure comes easily, which leads to more stress. It's one big catch-22, stuck between a rock and a hard place, love-hate relationship...but I know that each day only lasts so long and things always seem harder at the time. I think I can, I think I can. :)
Thank you for always being there and for giving me the opportunity to learn what I have and what I know I will continue to learn; your knowledge and character inspires and pushes me without you even purposely trying.