Friday, April 4, 2008

Reflective Essay

Senior year for me has been crazy, especially in English class. Unfortunately, I was not entirely involved with everything we did. However, I was still able to learn a lot. At the beginning of the year, I was very enthusiastic about going into the class. We started reading “The Stranger” and I very interested in the book. Even though at first it was difficult to understand many events that were happening in the story, Mr. Gallagher made sure that everything was thoroughly explained. When we would have lit circles and everyone was able to talk about what they thought was going on in the book, I was able to actually understand some things that I was confused about. The lit circles we did were definitely a big help.

When I was first introduced to a passage explication, I was thought that it would be the easiest assignment ever. My thoughts were that we would just have to explain what was happening in that passage. After reading the rubric and seeing examples of what we were going to have to do, I realized that it was not going to be that simple after all. When I wrote my first passage explication on a passage in the book “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, I thought that I had done a pretty good job. However, after getting the paper back, I realized that I did not understand how to really explicate a passage. That changed, though, after writing many other passage explications. Each time I did one, I learned to go more into depth and analyze the passage, instead of just describing what the author meant with his words.

Having the blog available, to me, was a huge help as well. Being able to se other student’s explications and observing how they did it helped me on my other assignments. Also, I was able to comment on anything I thought was interesting and ask questions about how they got their thesis. Another thing that I really enjoyed about blogging was that it would give me a little more time to pass in the assignment. I loved the fact that I would have until midnight to post an assignment.

After having worked hard to pass with a good enough grade for first quarter, instead of keeping it up, I began to get comfortable and not put any effort into my work. I lost my focus and stopped doing all the homework assignments and reading the books I was suppose to read. Unfortunately, I had no idea of how many things I was missing out on. We were reading James Joyce at the time, and because it is such a complicated book, I would have learned a lot from it if I tried. Only now I look back and realize that I was wasting my time by not doing the work. However, in my mind I thought that doing all the work would be a waste of time. When the end of second quarter approached I panicked. I was failing with the lowest grade that I had ever received in my life. Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything about my grade, so my lack of effort was proved the grade I got for that quarter.

Even though I could not do anything to change my grade for second quarter, I new that it was not too late to try harder for third quarter. I stopped feeling bad and began doing all my work, making sure that it was on time. We began reading Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” and I made sure to not miss class, so that I could get all the explanation on the passages and understand what was going on. I also made sure to check snap grades all the time, to see how my grades were doing. I realized how important this class was, not only because I need it to graduate, but also because the colleges that I got into are going to be seeing my grades. As I move on to college and graduate from Malden High School, I can happily say that I did learn a lot in English class this year. Not only did I learn about many artists and how to explicate passages, but I also learned to be independent with my work. Mr. Gallagher, in my point of view, is the type of teacher who advices you, gives you your options, and lets you go. This helped me learn to run after the things I need because they are for my own benefit. No one else will benefit from me if I get good grades and study hard, so it would not make sense for them to come after me telling me what I need to get done. In English class this year, I was treated as an adult, and as Mr. Gallagher would say, “I am helping you guys by treating you like they do in ‘real life’ or in college.” He did indeed help me, because I feel like I have learned to put effort into everything I do, and to run after the things that will help me in my life.