My goal this semester is to publicly share my writing.  Since my writing is academic in nature, I offer this week’s writing assignment:  a personal introduction.


In all honesty, I am taking Literature by Women of Color because the required Rhetoric and Composition course was filled.  Because I am a nondegree-seeking, self-paying, graduate certificate student, my scheduling does not have priority when compared with degree-seeking students who must graduate within a certain time frame due to scholarship requirements.  There is a longer story, but the short version is that the only option was to take whatever evening course was available that would help me meet the graduate certificate requirements.

I have an undergraduate degree in English and have taught high school English and reading (basically a preparation class for the state assessment, the FCAT) for fifteen years.  My masters degree is in instruction technology, which basically means curriculum development with an emphasis in Internet-based instruction.  I decided that I did not really want to be an administrator, even though I now have Administration on my teaching certificate, so I was left with nothing but to remain in the high school classroom.  So much has changed in fifteen years, though, that I do not know how much longer I will be able to maintain my sanity.  This is my professional sanity that I am referring to, though I do struggle with depression.

When Lee mentioned a year and half ago that he was interested in the possibility of teaching composition classes at the community college where he works, I jumped at the chance.  Here was a way for me to remain teaching, but to do so without the constraints of the FCAT.  I also love learning and was thrilled to have some direction in my life after feeling adrift for a couple years.

My focus at USF is on rhetoric and composition because that certification will most directly benefit me as I seek community college employment.  I have, though, seen improvements in my teaching of writing over the last year that I have been taking courses.  I don’t find teaching writing as stressful as I once did.  In fact, I almost relish the conversations that result when students get stuck on a topic and we discuss what their options are.  Just today, a county supervisor came to my room to check my writing folders and told me that she didn’t need to worry about me because of the amount and type of comments I leave on my students’ papers.  Wow!  It’s been so long since anyone from the county has said something nice.

One area I have struggled in over the last year is how to be more critical of what I read.  Criticism at a graduate level for an education degree seemed to be much easier for me.  I feel strongly about education since I love learning and have worked in the education field for all of my adult life.  When I am reading literature or memoirs, though, I don’t tend to question others’ viewpoints, but I do often think about my own views.  I remember just last semester, sitting in Dr. Metzger’s class, wondering how in the world the students were able to critique what we were reading.  Part of the difficulty is that I am still developing my knowledge base.  It is difficult to be a critic when one does not even know where to begin.  After I received my first paper back last week, with the lowest grade I have received on a paper since, well, ever, I decided that this course was going to give me a solid kick in the pants with my writing.

I am not sure what my own contribution will be.  I tend to talk too much, so I would like to be able to listen more.  I do have difficulty hearing, so the fact that I have a sight-line to everyone as s/he is speaking will help me figure out what each is saying.  I do hope that others will understand my own perspective as a white middle class woman.  It is through my parents’ silent support when I decided, without their prompting, that I would earn a college degree that I am where I am today.  My mom told me years after graduation that a degree had not been an expectation.  She does not have a college degree, but she graduated from technical school when I was in seventh grade and now teaches the program she graduated from.  My dad has a two year degree, and my brother has a high school diploma.  Dad’s mom, though, earned her college degree in 1966, the same year Dad graduated from high school.  My aunts and uncles, as far as I am aware, do not have college degrees.  I, however, was in school with students who had no choice but to go to college, and so I did what they did.  It has been to my advantage to have done so.  If there is anything I am generally good at, it is school.


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