Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflective Essay

I have never felt more exhausted over school than senior year. Entering English Honors, I didn’t know what to anticipate. I knew that there would be a lot of work, but I didn’t know it was going to be this much work. Walking into the English classroom, immediately I began to feel intimidated by the teacher who welcomed us into his classroom of scattered tables in different sizes and colors.

The year started with summer reading assignments just like the other three years of high school. Each year students were responsible for reading a book or two then they were required to take a test. The tests were not a problem for me and I felt confident that this class would not be a challenge. I was sure that there was nothing to worry about English 12 Honor, but then we were introduced to Explication. Never have I heard of this form of writing called an explication before. It was something new to me and to write a paper on something that I didn’t know how to do was going to be disastrous and nevertheless it did come out disastrous. For the first quarter, every explication I did came with a low score. The highest was a 70. I couldn’t believe in what I was seeing. I was trying so hard and spending hours trying to achieve a great essay, but something was missing. I couldn’t quite catch on what was considered explicating and so I struggled. I started questioning myself if I have been writing papers the wrong way because nothing I wrote was good enough. Unable to write a good paper, this brought my grade down. I felt really disappointed in myself and I started to not enjoy the class and felt even more intimidated by my teacher. I was completely stressed and overwhelmed by the class. I almost reached to a point where I hated English class because it was taking over my life. I would stay up late to write an essay and end up getting a low grade after spending hours on it. I was confused.

Instead of giving up, my motivation boosted. I’m not the kind of person who gives up so easily and won’t be satisfied until I do achieve what I want and for English it was to get an “A+” in Explication Essays. Strangely, I started focusing on English more than the other subjects. English somehow became a priority to me. I would commit myself to doing English homework over my AP Class work. By second quarter, the class started to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This time I wasn’t going to blindly write my essay. Instead I would seek help from my teacher. I knew that what i needed was an example to show me how to do it, but I was afraid to seek help earlier. I was upset with why I wasn’t getting this by myself, but I couldn’t let myself go through the same thing over again. Speaking with my teacher over organizing my essay and my ideas for the first time, it helped me greatly because i needed the help but i was in denial. As a result, I received my first A- for an explication. I was filled with unspeakable joy. Slowly but surely, I started seeing a difference in my grades. It began to rise each quarter. With the A-, it really motivated me to get an even better grade the next time and it did continue to progress from there. I started to receive positive feedback. With all the other assignments that we were given like the Olson creative project, it helped spark my creativity and the way i analyzed text. Writing the Joyce Paper and Tom Phillips Explication didn't seem so hard anymore and finally i received the A+ that I so greatly desired and this showed me that I was progressing. I couldn’t have been happier.

My view in English started to turn around. When we got into Hamlet, I started to enjoy English class. There was a time where we missed the class for about a week and I said to my friend, “hey, for some odd reason, I actually miss having English class.” This change came so sudden, but it was a sincere feeling because I did miss performing scenes in class and having the laughs. I also found myself to be more open and finally being myself. In the beginning of the year, I was shy and afraid to talk during class discussions because I would feel like what I had to say was going to be wrong and I would always loose my thought. By third quarter, I felt like I was being who I am and showing myself. I acted as Ophelia and sang in class when most people were hesitant to. I didn’t care if I was going to embarrass myself because it was all for humor and I found my teacher quite humorous at times and this allowed me to enjoy English class.

Overall, this year has been a learning experience for me. I started out not getting the grades that I wanted because of Explications, but because of the feedback that I was getting, the practice, and examples from my peers, I learned how to write a well written explication. My conception of the class has changed positively and I’m glad that my year ended this way.