It's been about a month since I
wrote about what's happening with our students at Golder
College Prep. Since my last post, we've been working mostly
one-on-one on the student's rough drafts. We've tried to work with
the same students every week and while there have been some ups and
downs, we've made a lot of progress.
Here's what I've learned:
- I will never be a teacher. When students
didn't bring in updated drafts it was crushing. I took it
personally. It hung a dark, dark cloud over my day (nevermind that
it seemed to also be monsooning in Chicago at the time). But today,
they all BROUGHT IT and I was so proud I tweeted about it the
second I walked out of Golder. Highest of highs and lowest of lows.
I could never live my daily life like this.
- Google Docs is revolutionizing education.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but having the
student's stories on Google Docs is incredibly helpful for editing
during the week. It is also really fun to leave comments. Mine may
have become excessive. But really, who doesn't love those little
word bubbles? Plus, you can "resolve" an issue and the comment
- Put down the pen. Every week when we go over
drafts one-on-one, it takes every fiber of my being not to snatch
the pen out of a student's hand and essentially rewrite their
papers. You know, just some incredibly controlling editing. But
talking through the process with them, asking what they
think needs to change, helps them learn a lot more than handing me
the pen. In order to remind myself of this, I went back and read
some of my writing from high school. I never would have improved if
someone would have done my work for me. So I've been having them
take the notes, change punctuation and rewrite sentences instead of
- They get it. They know the city's violence and
teen pregnancy rates. They understand the long-term effects of
bullying. They are observant young adults that are absorbing the
world around them and pouring everything they've learned into these
stories. Sometimes they need a reminder of how much potential the
world holds for them, but they definitely get what's happening out
there and they're preparing for it.
We have just a couple of weeks left to tweak these stories
before they are published in a chapbook to be sold in The Boring Store
and events like the
Printers Row Lit Fest. This semester seems to have slipped
through my fingers; it seems like just yesterday we were putting
together the first
brainstorming O-Matic sheet. Overall, the stories are where
they need to be and I am incredibly anxious to see the final
Our students will take the ACT tomorrow, and I did my best to be
encouraging today. I remember that feeling in the pit of my
stomach, sitting in an unfamiliar classroom at 7 a.m. with a whole
day of bubbling in front of me. But they're smart kids and they've
been preparing for this every day since their freshman year. And on
a really selfish level, I can't wait to get their attention off the
ACT and back onto their amazing stories.
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.