There is just something about a blog that makes me feel at home. It could be the relaxed and spontaneous nature of the technology; I can say “I” any time I wish because after all, this is MY BLOG and I reserve the right to be as free as I want to be without penalty. Ladies, think of it like the bra system… you wear one for the public because it’s proper etiquette, but the moment the garage door closes at 5 o’clock that baby is unhooked and on the bedroom floor. Freedom! Perhaps my fondness of the blog is because, as opposed to publicized journals or articles, my favorite curse words aren’t so frowned upon here, so you can bet your ass I will be exercising that freedom today.
The reason why I am choosing to use my last genre, the infamous Genre #3, as my final vehicle is simply for its effortless nature of being read. What I have to say requires understanding and observation. So, rather than bore you with a printed document with a format designed to make your eyes heavy, I decided to present you with this: a cute blog post that comes with visuals and a pretty outline. You’re welcome. Thus, let us begin the post.
The Week After My High School Graduation
Have you ever been proud of yourself for accomplishing a long term goal, only to find out your success reached as far as the front door to your next goal? That’s what my High School diploma was; a certificate to leave somewhere, but not necessarily to move on to greater things. Let me explain. The week after my high school graduation I realized just how unprepared for college I truly was. There I was, sitting in front of my laptop with my first Junior College application waiting to be submitted, yet I couldn’t press “send” because I wasn’t sure that I had done everything right. Sure, I had filled out everything that I had been directed to, to the best of my knowledge, yet nobody had ever gone through this with me. After talking myself into the fact that there is a first for everything, I submitted my application, and of course got accepted. I guess someone could argue that it wasn’t my high school to blame, after all it’s not that hard to put your name and address on a form and submit it online. Here’s where I’m coming from, though: the mission of high school is to prepare its students for life after graduation, especially college preparedness. Why skip the first step of getting into college? Doesn’t that set the standard for omitting similar processes like scholarships and student loans? Apparently, it did because never once in my secondary education did any teacher feel the need to talk about or explain these things. Sometimes I wonder if they [my high school] did that on purpose, you know, didn’t set us up for college or make us feel comfortable with it. It’s a good way to weed out the students who aren’t really sure about college, or the ones who want to go, but always seem to need extra help with their assignments. In regards to my own academic performance, I’ve always been the type of student who does the right thing no matter how confusing the process is. Thank God too, because honestly I don’t think secondary education cares much about those other students. The ones which school doesn’t come easy for. You know that saying, “college isn’t for everyone”? The week after my high school graduation I discovered that that phrase isn’t formed with sole attribution from the kid not going to college, but is made true with the help of another party: the high school that makes them feel that way. Sad, isn’t it?
My First Semester at UTA
Degree planning. This was my mental state of mind my entire first semester at The University of Texas at Arlington. The advisors at Collin College (CCCC) were about as helpful as a stoplight with three of the same colors, so you can imagine the anxiety of being in classes with students who knew exactly where they were going and each step to getting there. Thus, I scheduled an appointment with my English advisor and made a plan. Phew, finally I felt like a college student. Yes, I had just spent three years at a Junior College, but in all honesty I felt like I had just gone through my second phase of high school. I remember my UTA advisor saying, “You should get a tour from the UTA faculty, so you know all of your resources.” I did. The first stop was the Maverick Activities Center, better known as the MAC. Katie, my tour guide, had mentioned “It’s included in your tuition and is available to you almost 24 hours” as if she automatically knew that working out was of utter importance to me. You see, at my high school, and even CCCC, the only students required to participate in vigorous training were the athletes. Everyone else just had to walk a lap around the track in order to get their participation credit in Physical Education. While I was grateful that I now had the luxury of improving my physical state, I also felt bitter due to the discrimination displayed by my two high schools (I think it’s appropriate to deem CCCC as a slightly more mature high school). I began to backtrack and list all of the resources that were available to athletes and not P.E. students:
- 24 hour access to the school’s weight room
- free services from the school trainers (un-certified physical therapists)
- food plans specifically made for the student athlete
- emotional/mental support from the athletic staff
- professional boot camps for conditioning and strength
- 24 hour access to shower and bathroom facilities
- coaches, mentors, and trainers who work to ensure your passing grades
But Brittney, they earned those resources by proving that they have some athletic contribution to give to the school! This is what I usually hear from people, especially those partial to sports. My answer is always similar: don’t all students earn some amount of privileges by showing up to school everyday and proving their academic contribution to the school? I’m not here to bash the athletes. This is just the first example of many that highlights the flaw of many high schools. What about students who are on the debate team, or lead the student council? What experience are they getting that “regular” students aren’t? Believe it or not, even the smallest resources make a big difference in regards to life and college preparedness. My point here is this, during my tour from Katie I experienced several more MAC moments; moments of instant realization that I now how all the resources I could want, yet I couldn’t tell you how to utilize half of them. I began getting upset with myself. I should have participated in more extracurricular activities in High School. Why didn’t I commit myself to making the volleyball team. How did I miss the opportunity to be active on the student council? And then another question came up, Why does a student need to maintain any other status than student in order to be introduced to these systems? They don’t. They shouldn’t.
The 2014 High School English Class
Now that I’m a student teacher, I have the opportunity to go back to the root of my current issue, High School. Last week was my first time in a High School in about four years. Not much has changed with the exception of technology. I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about asking my Junior students the questions I needed know answers to, but eventually I decided yes or no questions would be the best way to go. I asked two classes (a total of 44 students) three questions, and asked them to put their answers in a bucket as they left class.
- Do you currently use a planner to structure your upcoming assignments and/or due dates?
- Do you know how to create a professional resume?
- Do you feel that your teachers explain how their content pertains to life and/or college preparedness?
Out of the 132 slips of paper I accumulated from these students, there were about 92 “no” pieces that went into the bucket. Thirty-eight of those were from the resume question. This tells me that even if the students were to reject college and choose the workforce instead, they would still struggle with getting a decent job due to their inexperience of selling themselves on paper. There were twenty-one no’s for question number one, which means that almost half of the surveyed students don’t have a grasp on college-level organization. If you’re reading this, you know that disorder alone often leads to devastating results in regards to a student’s GPA. These kids won’t stand a chance. For question three, the most relevant question in regards to what we’ve been talking about, thirty-three students said no. Yes, they’re teenagers and there is a large possibility that they just haven’t been paying attention to their teachers for the last three years. However, I’m sure this is exactly how people would have reasoned such disappointing polls five years ago when I was in high school. The truth is, many high school teachers don’t explain how students will have to apply what they’re being taught in eleventh grade to life and possibly college.
Now more than ever we live in a society that demands reason for the time they are giving up. Time that — as Hollywood likes to promote to their younger audience– could be better utilized on inventing the new Twitter or creating a limitless Smartphone. Adults don’t like to hear this but we have come to the end of the days where students automatically see school as a launching pad for success. Now students see school as an obligation that hinders them from starting their endeavors as the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zucherberg.
Within the next year, I have full intentions of becoming a High School English teacher. Perhaps now my biggest fear will be for a student-teacher to walk in and put a bucket in front of my students with yes or no slips of paper that dictate if I have been doing my job effectively. More so however, the answers my students drop in the bucket will determine if they will be able to stand a chance in the world after they leave my class. That is the true test.