Changing views on English and Education
Coming into Sophomore year I was coming off a great Freshman year, I had an awesome time making new friends from the other towns and my grades couldn’t have been better in all my classes except English. I was nervous for the new academic year especially for English because my high school has just hired a new teacher and I would be having her. My freshmen year teacher was very difficult and I always struggled in that class. Keeping up with all the assignments and essays every week was very different from middle school. It was also his first year there at Passaic Valley High School and his first year being a teacher. Prior to becoming a teacher he was a news reporter for a regional news network. It was very difficult to learn from him because we were freshmen trying to learn the basics of high school writing and expecting newsworthy writing and it just never worked for the students.
He expected perfect writing right off the back. He wanted our drafts to have minimal errors and our draft should almost be done already. The highest grade I received on an essay for him was a low “B”. I consistently struggled in that class no matter how hard I tried. It seemed no matter what I did in the class whether it was participating or asking questions it never seemed to help and he would get disgruntled when being asked questions. For essays I would even get other teachers to proofread and edit my essays to make sure they were acceptable to submit. Also him being a new teacher and us being new students we were both trying to figure out this whole high school thing together.
On the other hand I have Ms. Ellis going into sophomore year who has also never taught either and the only thing I can assume is that Sophomore year will be a continuation of Freshman year. Another year of struggling with essays, receiving no feedback, and zero help from the teacher. When I walked into class that first day I felt something different about Ms. Ellis. I knew something about this year was going to be different, it was going to happen I just didn’t know when. Her whole vibe and persona made you feel better about the class and made us students think this was gonna be a good year. Since this is the first day of school every teacher is nice but for some reason she felt genuine about it.
First day of class I went in with negative thoughts about how this year is just going to repeat itself just like last year and when I walked into class it was like every first week of school and all the teachers seem the same, nice and polite. Once school is in motion that’s when you notice what type of teacher you will really have for the rest of the year. At first I did not like Ms. Ellis at all. She didn’t seem genuine or personal at all. The relationship between her and her students was nothing more than school related. We never got to know each other and it felt like no one knew each other. After my first week of class, my perception of her changed. Ms. Ellis became herself and the class instantly changed for the better. As a class we would talk about everything and anything because we were so comfortable with each other. You can’t base an education only on the material you’re learning, or what kind of teacher you have, because it’s a balance between all those things and most importantly what kind of students you have. Kids when they’re at a young age love going to school and teachers need to continue that excitement for learning to make better students and a better tomorrow.
And Ms. Ellis was the most real teacher you will have in your entire life. She told you how it was and held nothing back. Instead of having that teacher to student relationship, she felt like one of us, a friend. She was kind, helpful, and most importantly approachable. The way she would talk to us as adults and in such a respectful manner made the class go easier and better. It was okay to ask questions and for help, she never made it seem like the student wasn’t important because that was her top priority always. Also she always made time for her students whether that was before, after class, or even if that meant missing her lunch.
If all teachers had the same attitude about teaching and education, everyone would benefit. Also the one thing that no other teacher has ever done for me I thought she could never do, she did. She made love to read and actually enjoy it for once. It seems that every English class we have to read some novel that no one has ever heard of and no one wants to read. But when Ms. Ellis pulled out The Hunger Games, I could not have been more excited. I have seen the movie and loved it. After reading the book I enjoyed it so much, that I actually finished it in one day and made my mom bring me to Barnes & Nobles that day to buy Catching Fire and Mockingjay. It was my first time finishing a series, enjoying a book, and most importantly choosing to read on my own for fun. I looked forward going to class everyday for discussion and testing because I actually read the book. Knowing what was going to happen next in the book was a first for me because I never read the book for discussion always stressing out hoping the teacher wouldn't call on me or ask a question.
This experience I had with Ms. Ellis changed my view on education and what an English class should be in today’s schools. She’s one of the few teachers I actually enjoyed having as a teacher and felt like she was trying to better the lives of students. Ms. Ellis plays a huge impact on why I want to be a teacher today. The way she made me love a subject I dreaded and hated for so many years is the same I want to do for my students one day. Whether that be English or math I hope I can help at least one student.
This experience I know isn’t just my story. We all have that one teacher who has made such an impact on our lives that we will never forget them and hopefully we can be as good as they were one day. I can’t wait in four years that I'll be graduating from UNE being a teacher and doing what I love.