Teacher Tuesday 10.16.12

Happy Teacher Tuesday, everyone! Today I thought I'd share one of the things I'll be doing in my classroom today. I really love when I push myself to do the activity I'm asking my students to do. Often times, it makes the whole teaching experience a whole lot more exciting and worthwhile. Plus, the students don't feel like they're the only ones doing work! (Little do they know...)

So in the next activity of my Springboard textbook (I'm working from the Senior English text- Activity 1.10), it asks students to take a photo and crop it to a specific item. Then, it asks them to write a "literary vignette," including imagery and other rhetorical strategies, using a vignette from Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street ("Four Skinny Trees") as a reference. I decided to create an example using one of my own photos to better explain this concept. What was originally supposed to be just a fun little writing exercise turned into something therapeutic for me.

I started with this photo:

That's me in Scotland in May 2011 (I wrote about my love of traveling there here) by the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Yes, the train tracks from Harry Potter! It was amazing getting to see the tracks in person and feeling so connected to the series I love so much.

But anyway, in this exercise, it asks us to crop the photo to a specific image within the photograph. So, of course, I selected the viaduct.

Then, the students are supposed to write a literary vignette using this image. The dominant symbol of the photo should make some sort of statement about their self-perception. The text encourages us to use a variety of grammatical structures/sentence lengths and styles, so I am going to ask them to use rhetorical fragments and imagery. I know, this is deep stuff, even for seniors!

As I said, I didn't expect writing my own example would turn into something enlightening, but it did. Check out what I wrote. It applies to me, but I think it will really apply to seniors, too, as they embark on a new journey after high school:

In the middle of the Scottish highlands lie the infamous vaulted train tracks from Harry Potter, upon which the Hogwarts Express transports the misunderstood and the lonely to a place where they are accepted for who they truly are. Who they were meant to be. These tracks blend in with their surroundings—a moss-covered stone amid the breathtaking hills and valleys, often blanketed in thick fog. You might not notice the tracks from the main road; in fact, you must step off this path and climb a few hills just to catch a glimpse. When you see this viaduct, however, you are reminded of travelers making their way to a new place. Of miles of tracks stretching in all directions.

This viaduct is not just a method of transportation. It’s a mark of my own journey. Little did I know that from the moment I set my eyes upon the track, I was beginning an adventure into the unknown—an adventure during which I am still in the beginning stages.

I long to see my destination, to know of my arrival time, to breath a sigh of relief at the end of my travels. But these tracks remind me that I am en route to greatness and I might be missing out on the journey by forgetting to look out the window along the way.

When I am lost and feel off track, I remember this viaduct and remind myself that I shouldn’t worry about where I’ll end up. Instead, I should soak up the surprises and memories encountered along the way. Before I know it, I’ll be there.

I've really been struggling with finding my place and where I belong and where I'm going to end up after all of this. I've talked about the contrast between my expectations and reality here. But after writing this and being honest with myself, I really do need to continue to appreciate where I am and why I am here now. The rest of it will all fall into place. And this applies to YOU too! Wherever you are in life, especially for those in a time of transition, join me and let go of wondering where life is going to take you. We're going to be okay. 

While that's all easier said than done, I hope that this can serve as a little reminder to look back at when things are tough.

Have a great day everyone.

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