Let me start off by saying that I have grown up a lot! (At least I hope I have)
I was digging through some old memorabilia and found some high school work of mine. I am going to share some of it below but there is a reason for this madness and it's not to show what a butt head I was (although after reading it you may agree with the butt head label).
I attended Fountain Valley High School in So Cal back in 1989 (to put me in the writing mood tonight, I am playing my 80’s New Wave playlist which you can check out here; am I missing any hits?)
My senior year I did not make it into the “college prep” English class due to a consistent, less than stellar GPA my previous three years and the class I was in referred to ourselves as the Sweathogs (the term is from “Welcome Back Kotter” and if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch on YouTube).
My English teacher ended up being Jim Beirne.
Was he bad teacher? No.
Did he wear a Members Only jacket in his class photo? Yes.
Did I like him back in 1989? No.
Now here is where it gets a little fuzzy... I am not sure why I couldn’t stand him. The one thing which does stick out was his making us do Daily Writing Journals.
Oh how I loathed these journals. Reflecting on it now I remember the overriding reason I hated them was the fact that I didn’t think my teacher ever read any of them. It was this lack of feedback which really pissed me off and the reason why is that I think I actually TRIED in many of these journals to put real thought and effort.
Each day he would assign a different prompt and each day he would return the previous days with this initials showing us we got credit for it. Well, after a few months I got more and more angry with the apparent laziness and lack of care he had to even read these prompts so I challenged Mr. Beirne and well, you can read some of the highlights below:
Now I bet you can imagine what his initials on the top of the page meant to me?
He didn’t read it again.
Oh, how vindicated and smug I felt for weeks.
But to any educators reading this now… What are your thoughts about this assigning and feedback paradox? I ask because after teaching 15 years of AP World History my last two years I felt so relieved to tell the kids the brutal truth: “I am not capable to read all the writing you will do in this class”. It was a huge weight off my chest because this lesson I had deep in me from 1989 was that students NEED feedback but now that I WAS THE TEACHER, how could I honestly give feedback for 6 classes of 30+ kids on a regular basis without going mad?
So… what are you thoughts about giving written assignments and giving teacher feedback?
Oh.. and wherever you are Mr. Beirne, I am sorry again. These journals are a gold mine for me to look back and see a little about who I was and what I was thinking about. I will treasure these.
And I did actually like the Members Only Jacket.