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Elan Brown Professor Collin Ludlow-Mattson English 114 First Year Composition 12 September 2013 English with Mr. Rodriguez I dont exactly like to write and only enjoy reading when its a book that is not assigned to me for work so I usually dont enjoy English but I do like to learn. My experience with past English teachers hasnt always been the best and unfortunately I have ended up having mostly horrible teachers rather than good ones. Having a horrible teacher can be very frustrating, especially for someone who actually enjoys learning. Although he was one of the worst teachers I have had, he motivated me to go out and teach myself the things he wasnt able to. The worst teacher Ive had was in my freshmen year of high school with my English teacher Mr. Rodriguez. It was probably his sixth year of teaching and he wasnt very good at it. Every time he walked into class he had an attitude that read, I really dont want to be here. Everyone leave me alone. I hate my job. He spent the majority of class time on his computer while his students sat around, socialized, and trashed the room. He didnt know how to properly control the class so, on the rare occasions that he would get up and attempt to instruct the class, no one would stop to listen to him. It also didnt help that for most of the school year he was nowhere to be seen, we had many substitutes and those were the only times the class was quiet due to there being a movie playing. His method of teaching involved handing out packets of

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English worksheets and they were simple circle or underline the helping verb or adjective instructions so he never taught us much. Going into high school I expected to be assigned an essay to write each week and a new book to read each month however, this was not how it was going to be with his class. I was excited at first, happy that nothing would be expected of me during the two hours of being there. However, I was soon saddened by the fact that getting a free pass in English also meant that I wasnt learning anything. I realized that his lack of teaching was holding me back. While we were in class socializing other classes were learning proper grammar, reading poetry, and giving book reports. Missing out on a year of English would have put me at a disadvantage in the following year of English to people who had teachers that actually taught their classes. I was frustrated with my class so I decided to start doing things for myself. Some days I would go home and look up the various prefixes and suffixes to get a better understanding of words. I would make flashcards of these to help myself memorize all of the meanings. This helped me so whenever I encountered a word I didnt fully understand I was able to guess at what its definition was based on their prefix or suffix. In addition to this, I would look up literary terms for myself to put into use when writing or notice them being used when reading. I learned about the references of allusions, the tone a story can have, the use of figurative language, dramatic hyperboles and the different types of irony. I also had school books that I would use, going through the grammar book to read up on things I didnt understand and reading the short stories in the thicker book that our class had checked out. Much like Sherman Alexie, I started reading more and I had applied what I had learned to my reading. I began reading more notable books. I had always enjoyed reading but they were usually books that were fairly easy to understand. I started to challenge myself in reading and began picking up books such as

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Fahrenheit 451, The Scarlet Letter, and The Hobbit. I didnt understand why The Scarlet Letter was such a renowned book, I didnt find it very exciting and was happy to be done with it. Unlike The Scarlet letter, Fahrenheit 451 and The Hobbit were very different. The Hobbit was more engaging than the books I had read in the past, it was an exciting page turner that I wasnt able to put down. Fahrenheit 451 had the same engaging story and while I was reading these books I was also putting what I had taught myself to work. When I was reading these books I noticed the different literally items being used such as foreshadowing, irony, allusions, and symbolism in the stories. Taking time to learn about prefixes and suffixes helped me in understanding the books as well, especially while reading The Scarlet Letter. I also enjoyed reading plays and poetry and found some of my favorite authors. The author of the plays I read was William Shakespeare. The first play I had read from him was Julius Caesar. I liked reading Shakespeares plays because I loved reading about tragedies. I learned about the structures of plays and how powerful a monologue can be. Poetry was also fun to read but some pieces were harder to understand. I memorized the different types of poems such as sonnets, ballads, blank verses, and elegies. I always found poetry hard to understand. It seemed like some authors wanted there to be meaning behind every word in there poem while other ones had no meaning at all. While looking up poems I came across Edgar Allen Poe and Langston Hughes. Poetry was also hard because of the different structure that comes with each form. I was happy that I had decided to teach myself for that time because the class continued to do nothing for the rest of the year. The only assignments we had were those easy English packets and the only tests we did were assessments that the district required us to take. Further into the year I hated going to his class, I was annoyed that he rarely got up or looked away from

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his computer. If I hadnt taken the initiative to educate myself for the year I would not have been prepared for the following year of English where I was ahead of the class. I had already read some of the books being assigned for that year and wasnt as confused when we got to the poetry sections. This experience was important to me because during this time I learned to do things for on my own like teaching myself different areas of English. My English class was basically a social hour for everyone. We werent expected to write and we werent assigned any books to read for the entire academic year. Back then I thought that I was a bit of a loser for doing what I was doing, taking time out of my day to learn and sometimes not spending time with friends because I was so engulfed in a book that I couldnt wait to get home to finish reading it. No one had taken the time to do what I did. Now that I look back at what I did I am proud of myself for doing it. I was able to get a better understanding of words, literary devices and discovered some of my favorite books. This experience had changed my view of learning by teaching me how crucial it is. Education is a very important thing that shouldnt be taken for granted. I have had some teachers who dont care to truly teach the subject which is unfortunate, especially for major subjects such as English and math. The lesson I take from my experience is that if something isnt going right then take charge and do it yourself. If you are put into a bad situation then try your best to fix it and focus on your future goals. Elan, You tell your story very well! The narration is fluid, and the details are vivid. For the second draft, I would like you to work on focus and reflection. Before you begin revising, I would like you to try to write out what the essays point (the lesson or insight that the essay should be structured around) is in a couple sentences. What did your experience in Mr. Rodriguezs class make you realize about literacy and your relationship to it? The

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sentences you come up with should guide the sharpening of your essays focus and the deepening of your reflection.