Monthly Archives: September, 2008

Happy Student Moments

Last week, I reviewed my tenth-graders’ homework on adverbs. One of my relatively talkative girls said, “Miss W., this is the first time I haven’t been bored in your class.” I was excited about adverbs, as I always am about grammar, but that made my day.

Tonight, I’m grading vocabulary quizzes I gave while preparing for our ridiculously early standardized tests. For part of the quiz, the students had to choose any word from the word bank to write in a contextual sentence. I didn’t call them “contextual sentences,” but most of them got the point. One of my ninth-grade boys wrote, “In class today I could not erudite what the teacher was teaching because of all the distractions.” I read it to my housemates, and responded in writing, “Nice try, but it’s still incorrect.” Then I drew a smiley face. He also wrote, “My friends were to drunk to drive so I was the designated driver since I don’t drink.” I corrected his spelling and reminded myself that he can’t legally drive, either.

My kids are ridiculously badly behaved, but at least there are some moments that make me glad to do what I do.

Catholic Superheroes

In a burst of activity and productivity, I am catching up on the e-newsletters that piled up in my inbox. I get the National Catholic Register‘s weekly update of free articles (which change daily). The title “Even Superheroes Need Superheroes” caught my eye. Angelo Stagnaro’s article details Catholic comic book characters, including Hellboy, Daredevil, and Nightcrawler (from X-Men).

From the popularity (and awesomeness) of comic book movie adaptations, I find myself intrigued by comic superheroes. I thought the first two X-Men movies were great (the third, not so much). I liked Daredevil, I loved Spider-man and Spider-man 2 (never saw 3), and I know Greg liked Hellboy and some others Stagnaro mentions. I’ve also noticed the presence of Catholicism and Catholic imagery in the media these last few years. The Punisher’s sense of justice is carried out in less than desirable ways, but I can see sprinklings of a basis in Catholic social teaching.

Is that good enough, though? Can we be satisfied with vestiges of Catholicism in the media, or do we need something more overt? Could we ever have a tv show or movie where the characters do “normal” things, but just happen to be Catholic? I’m not sure, but those conversations are certainly more likely when pop culture gives us avenues for discussion like ubiquitous rosaries.

My Baby

Don’t worry; not that much has changed since I moved down south. Before I even hit midterms back at UMD, I knew I would need to buy a car this summer. Preparing for graduation, ACE summer, and living my life got in the way of car shopping until the last week of July, when I came back from ND. My parents did some scouting for a new car, so after two evenings at the dealership, I drove away in this.

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? Isn’t she…fabulous? Mary Thérèse, also known as MT, is a 2008 Chevy Aveo. It’s the Jetta of Chevys, and I love her. She’s got 1550 miles on her after the trek from Maryland and driving back and forth to school every day, but we’re going strong. Michael will be washing her soon, and in exchange he has wrinkle-free shirts. (We have an arrangement.) I’ve never owned a car before, but I’m excited. MT is just part of this new adventure called ACE.

The One-Month Victory Lap

Today marks four weeks. I have been a real teacher for a month. I have felt completely defeated. I have had bright spots of joy with my students. I have been well-praised and bluntly reprimanded in a single day. This is my new life.

I teach ninth- and tenth-grade English at my high school. There’s only one other English teacher at my school; she teaches the juniors and seniors. It was a shock to come right out of college and have the reading, writing, and communication skills of half a school dropped into my lap. I have so little experience; more than once I’ve thought, “I can’t do this.” My planning skills are mediocre at best, and I never quite feel like I’m doing it right. I keep going back every day, though, and I will for the next two years.

My saving grace is ACE. The support structure is exactly what I needed. Teach for America horror stories make me so glad I committed to ACE (though I considered applying to TFA as a backup plan). My community is amazing. They celebrated my birthday in bits and pieces over nine days. I’ve never had a novena birthday before, and I’ve never felt so loved by people I’ve known for such a short time. It started the Saturday before my actual birthday. I’d decided that dinner at IHOP would be the perfect birthday meal, but Brendan and Michael were going away for the weekend, so they surprised me two hours before they took me there for a late lunch. (They knew a kidnap was out.) On Tuesday, after community prayer, they gave me my present: a Maryland state flag to hang on our flag wall. On Saturday, Brynn and Sarah decorated my door, and we ordered Papa John’s and got Breyer’s ice cream and Chardonnay to celebrate. On Monday, they took advantage of my general obliviousness to bake me a birthday cake. It was the longest and best birthday I’ve ever had. Our community has its moments (or maybe it just has moments with me…), but we’re all in this together (cue High School Musical) and we’ve all got God.

Besides the grace of my ACE community, there is the grace of God. I may not always know what I’m doing, but I know that God does. He’s given me a love for teaching, learning, books, and language, and the awesome opportunity to combine and share those gifts. I have less time for my personal spirituality than ever, but I know that when I can retreat into the stillness of my heart, he is there. He’s waiting to comfort me and guide me through this new, crazy life called ACE.

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