Everyone has a different story about their literacy adventure, but we all have one thing in common: we all have a story about how we first started to read or what first sparked our attention in the literacy world. As long as I can remember I have been reading and writing. I was a top “AR” reader in my fifth grade class. I always had a quiz that came along with the piece I had to read. I received several awards and points for being such a great reader. To others, this seemed like a great accomplishment, but to me it was nothing really; I like to read and write. So what? This was just something I didn’t really have to work at.Order now
This early interest in reading became the stepping stone I needed to adventure into writing. Throughout middle school I loved English. Absolutely loved it. It was one class I could always count on. It never confused me, never worried me. I was always looking for ways to improve, because a paper is never perfect. Somebody’s always going to have an opinion, or something they think you should change as a writer. I learned quickly that interpretation meant everything, and there was always going to be somebody dissatisfied. Writing came effortless to me during my middle school years, and the beginning of high school.
I scored well on my papers, some really difficult ones and I would always get questioned by my peers. How did you do that? Did you pay him/her off? Countless questions arose but what they didn’t understand is that it is something that came so naturally to me. I knew what needed to be done and I executed it. This all seemingly worked through high school until I met seemed to be a rock wall: Mrs. Thomas, my senior English teacher. Senior year came around, and I just knew it would be a breeze. I knew how high school worked, why would this year be any different? Boy I was in for a rude awakening.
First day of English class I remember having no worries. I focused more on math and science which are the classes I thought would bring me down. My English teacher Mrs. Thomas tried scaring us on the very first day. This will be difficult”, she said. “Throw all you know about writing out the window. ” Why on earth would I do that? Ever since I was little all my teachers have taught me the same thing. Five paragraphs, strong thesis statement, intriguing introduction and conclusion. But not now, what I did know about English is getting thrown out the window and now I am learning all over again.
I couldn’t understand why she wanted to change what we have learned so far. Mrs. Thomas made me write journals, made me write research papers, and most importantly she pushed me out of my comfort zone. Way, way, way out of my comfort zone. I remember struggling at times. Well actually I struggled a lot of times. I remember being up for hours trying to figure out what she wanted from me. When I’d ask her for help her reaction would simply be “You just aren’t used to it. Think in broader terms Chrissy. Beyond what you know and what you’re comfortable with. ” This was difficult for a girl who hated change to comprehend and to adjust to.
My first paper I gave to her got returned to me with a big fat D. Disgusting. Dreadful. Disastrous. This was not a mark I expected on my paper, and clearly not one I had hoped for. It was unexpected, but ultimately taught me a lesson. I didn’t know everything about writing. I hadn’t mastered it. Mrs. Thomas challenged me the entire year. I never felt too comfortable with my writing, but I think that’s what helped me. I started going back and changing my essays. I was never satisfied with my first draft anymore. I knew I could be better, and I knew I could write to her standards. In a way my own standards became higher.
I didn’t let myself just do the bare minimum work anymore. I wrote multiple drafts, and used every resource I could to adjust my writing from what I knew to something foreign to me. I have learned it’s not all about rubrics, and it’s not all about what the teacher wants to hear. Sure there are requirements but the actual stuff that’s graded is deeper than that. It’s about opening yourself up completely. Being open to change, and learning something new at the end of each paper. I never looked at papers the same after the first dreadful one that got returned to me marked up with red ink. Mrs.
Thomas taught me all I didn’t know about writing, and in a surprising way made me more literate. I’m a better writer, and a better student no matter how much I despised the process that it took to get there. The lessons I learned in Ms. Thomas’s class didn’t just help me make it through my senior year English class. The skills I learned will continue to be a part of my writing, and I’ll always think back to the way I adjusted. Writing and reading is not simply being able to do the task at hand. It’s about learning, and growing. We all learn literacy, and increase our abilities throughout life even if we don’t notice the changes.