Week 11: Try and try againMonday, April 22, 2013
A Semester with 826CHI
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 disappears. Productivity!
- 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 me.
- 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 product.
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.