It was the first day of school. I vividly remember my first class with Ms. Fedorov. All of us sophomores sat uncomfortably in our chairs, anxiously waiting for the bell to ring so we could leave her class and carry on with the rest of our ordinary days. As my teacher read her syllabus aloud, I knew I was in for a different English experience this year, one that I had to work hard for. It seemed like there would be endless writing assignments and piles of books that I had to read. When she told us her expectations, I became even more scared. To keep in mind, I was still a timid fifteen year old, still adjusting to what it seemed like the big, completely different world called high school. I felt as if I had to mature quicker than I wanted to. While all of these thoughts were swirling around in my head, my teacher was still talking about her expectations. In addition to all of this writing, I had to perform these evil events called Socratic seminars. It was required of us to create several questions pertaining to the story read in class, along with possible answers and supporting details and let me tell you, it seemed as if there were endless answers. The class had to sit in a circle and go through each question, one by one, discussing and even arguing until all possible answers were exhausted. I really had to think out of the box with these and expand my imagination. Fast forwarding past all the stress and dreadful night-before preparations, to my completion of these, I had to admit they were the most beneficial assignments that I had completed in English. I not only was able to work on speaking aloud but I had become so thorough with my work that I felt invincible and like I could analyze anything that came at me. If there was a point, I could prove it. Besides these seminars, vocabulary was very important to my teacher as well. Once a week, I had to complete a vocabulary packet filled with numerous activities. In addition to this packet, there would be a quiz on these new words the following week. By the end of the year, I had learned over 200 vocabulary words that seemed so foreign to me before. Everyday, I would use these words inside of school, but also find them appearing outside of school. Besides vocabulary words, my confidence and maturity were slowly appearing as well. With this maturity, I had learned to appreciate the English language. I had to deal with the fact that English would always exist in my life, so I might as well like it and not fight learning it. Before I knew it, it was junior year of high school and I was ready to take on the next level.
Fortunately for me, I was assigned Ms. Fedorov my junior year. As the amount of work increased, I was able to complete it easier because I was adapted to her teaching style and stickler ways. Junior year was easily the hardest year of high school, filled with SAT’s and college applications. Now that you know my teacher, you know she would not let any of her students slack one bit, especially this year. Every week, a new SAT topic was presented to my class and we had to write an essay answering this prompt. Essays were not one of my strengths, so they were another thing I dreaded in this class. I had only 30 minutes to complete these essays and I was not allowed to prepare any kind of outline beforehand. Although I became better at quick thinking and proficient in writing essays, there were some downfalls. Time was not on anyone’s side and sometimes essays seemed impossible to finish. My mind started racing once Ms. Fedorov told us that same word every week, “Begin.” It was hard to collect my thoughts and retain focus. However, I started to enjoy essays, ones that let me think creatively at least. In addition to all this writing there was a significant amount of reading done. I read important stories such as Beowulf, Macbeth, Fahrenheit 451, and A Streetcar Named Desire. These stories helped me recognize many themes, one of the main themes being good versus evil. Ironically enough, these themes were utilized in many of my essay prompts and proved to be good material for forming thesis statements based on causes and effect. I was able to get creative with these themes and find a variety of examples that showed them. Ms. Fedorov emphasized cause and effect very much and I found myself beginning to emphasize it in my own papers. I don’t know if I emphasized it because of her teaching ways or because of my own experiences. I found that even though I disliked doing some assignments like essays or seminars, they made me a good writer and I was very happy with my results in the end. Many challenges were brought to me in the past two years, whether it was a heavy work load our just mentally preparing myself for class. It was challenging for me to complete structured assignments, because I preferred creative ones where I could let my mind wander without being deemed right or wrong. However, with each new challenge came new knowledge and skill that only enhanced my writing. I knew they would come one day and it was up to me to find a way to conquer them. When my junior year of English had concluded, my confidence was at an all time high, a feeling I had never really experienced with writing before.
I have been always told that English is such a key component to a student’s education and I would have to agree. This subject has indeed impacted me in more ways than I know. My own learning style was positively impacted. I have learned to keep an open mind and adapt to many different teaching methods. As I have become fonder of English, there are still many imperfections with it and I truly wished there were not such things as methods or rules. As Linda Brodkey writes, “The problem is not that writing cannot be learned, for many have learned to write, but that writing cannot be taught as a set of rules or conventions that must be acquired prior to and separate from performance…Learning how to write follows from wanting to write…” (Brodkey 22). Many young students, including myself, are turned off from English because teachers are too strict and don’t allow for much expression on papers. Without expression there is no creativity. There are also too many expectations and it’s impossible to meet every one successfully. If I have learned anything these past few year, it has been to express yourself and write about what you love even when given guidelines. Ms. Fedorov expected her students to go above and beyond and in reality that didn’t always happen. I’d like to think I was one that tried to go above and beyond, but in reality I was not able to, especially without coming across any obstacles along the way. Even if I failed at times, my teacher’s essay assignments and SAT prep helped shape who I am as a writer now, one that knew how to be effective while writing in my own way. Now although the journey through the subject of English was bumpy one, it was completely worth taking. After all, it’s not about the journey; it’s about the destination.