Beginning Touchstone Moments

  • Teaching a Bible school class
    • For this moment I had started this in my junior year of high school, I did this for two years. I had begun seriously considering colleges, and was seriously trying to figure out what the heck I was even going to do in college. One particular afternoon I was preparing the mini lesson that I would go over with my little middle school aged class, one of my students came in and asked me what I was going to do. I asked this child what they meant, and they pressed on with “Are you going to college? Will you still teach our class when you start college?” I was caught completely off guard, but the only truthful answer I could come up with was “I don’t know sugar pea, we’ll just have to have faith that the Lord will take me where I need to go, and bring you someone you need too.” The child accepted this answer and promptly left to go find cupcakes and act like a hooligan outside in the parking lot. So, maybe to that child it was not a very important moment, but to me it was. My children in that class loved me, they weren’t ready to let go, they enjoyed learning our Bible stories because I made it fun and didn’t try to make them sit at a desk for an hour and write words they don’t care about. And in this moment I decided that I was going to teach. I hope I never have to teach middle school aged children again, but it was a great experience, that opened my eyes as to what it was like to deal with children, and facilitate learning. Now three and a half years later, I’m sitting in a dining hall, typing on a library MacBook, back then I barely had a laptop, and in my tiny church classroom I had a small blackboard about the size of the table I am currently occupying.
  • While writing a huge paper over Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury
    • I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this paper was HUGE. Thirteen pages of intense research, long hours mulling over articles with words bigger than I am, hundreds of notes that to any sane person looks like scribbles from a post apocalyptic zombie. I wrote this paper also in my junior year of high school, there was a lot going on that year. This paper, despite being my own personal hell, I found that I love research. And more importantly, I love researching literary topics. At the time I wanted to write a paper that would have been suitable for an academic journal, and I believe I got close. It is the best paper I think that I have ever written, or perhaps the paper I have worked the hardest on. My dictionaries became well used, the internet was my partner, and JSTOR became a recommended page every time I typed a ‘J’ into Google search on the computer in the library I used every day. This discovery and this paper became incredibly important to me because it showed me that I wanted to continue my efforts in the literary world. It also helped me to realize that I want to teach literature to help even more people understand and fall in love with literature. So often in todays world, children are taught to only read what you need to read, spit it back up, and go on with your day, I decided even back then, that I want to help spark the love for literature in students, and that I want to present learning literature and its many components in a way that students can connect to and understand. At the time I became very good friends of sorts with my literature teacher at the time. Every week I made time to sit down with her and hear what she had to say about anything she would tell me about. Often we discussed British pop culture, books, and occasionally she would ask how my paper was coming. She loved hearing about the discoveries I made while working on the paper. She helped me develop as a better person, a better writer, and sparked the fire in me that wanted to explore anything and everything in the literature world that I could get my hands on.
  • Being a teachers aide junior year of high school
    •  Another juinior year story, I know. But this one is also very important to me. I was an aide for one of my favorite English teachers in high school. And being her aide I was subjected to grading tests, essays, and any other homework that had been assigned. Mostly, I graded 9th grade level work, with a few tenth graders assignments in the pile. I spent a semester doing this for an hour a day. Every day I would sit at the teachers desk and often, painstakingly, mark through assignments and essays with a standard red pen. Marking grammar, writing my thoughts and criticisms in the margins, and often close to tears wondering how these children had made it this far in life without figuring out how to use basic grammar and essay format. I often reminded myself that we all have to start somewhere, and that the standards for learning had changed in the two year gap between myself and those students. When I did this, despite being heartbroken at how those children, at the time, seemed completely idiotic, it allowed me to see just how much work being an English teacher is, and it sparked the desire in me to be a good teacher that is willing just like that teacher was to help mold students into better, literature understanding, writers. This is a touchstone moment for me because despite being beyond frustrated, I more than anything wanted to help better these children. Where most people would have shied away from the task, I embraced it and accepted the challenge for the future.
  • One last touchstone moment I’ll discuss here is a moment from my summer after high school.
    • This moment is going to possibly seem very cheesy and cliched, but who would I be if I didn’t mention it? So, summer after senior year, I attended a college predatory program throughout high school and the summer after our senior year we got to take two free college classes, well I took U.S. History, and Psychology. On the first day of classes I sat in my history class next to a girl I barely knew, although we had been acquaintances for a little more than three years. I smiled and said good morning, she gave me a panicked look and turned to the girl who was her only friend (I know now) and seemingly ignored me for the rest of the period. This moment I brushed off initially, I assumed she just did not want to associate with a girl with short blonde hair, an exploding TARDIS dress, and space painted high top Converse. Long story short, that girl and I have been dating for almost two years now, we have a German Shepherd puppy named Murdock, and we’re by all standards, the cutest little family you’ll ever meet (A recent selfie of us is on the homepage of this blog:). Anyway, that girl became a great figure in my life. I was in an awful place emotionally, truth be told I hadn’t planned to make it through my first semester of college. But, she showed me the metaphorical light, pushed me to keep going, and gave me something to look forward to coming home to. She helped me to reignite the fire in me that wanted to become one of the worlds best literature teachers. At the time I wasn’t looking for someone to help me, I didn’t want to be helped, but somehow, this girl got me. She got under my skin and helped me to realize that I had so much to live for, that I have so much love to give to the world. She helped me to work through a lot of internalized issues I have. Of course, no one is perfect, and you can’t heal someone just by loving them, it’s still hard to get out of bed a lot of mornings, but, I have learned that I have to love myself before I can be the best version of myself that wants to help the world, and be present in life. At that time, I had a laptop so we Skyped as often as we could, long phone calls, along with text messages by the thousands. My girl still lives in Arkansas, so we try to keep communication as open and available as possible. Now I have an iPad and we FaceTime every night, except the nights that I get in too late to catch her before sleep does. It’s hard to be so far away from my little family for months at a time, but they help me to see that there is so much beauty in life that I need to keep living for, and an education that I must remain steadfast in acquiring.

3 thoughts on “Beginning Touchstone Moments

  1. I love your line “you can’t heal someone just by loving them.” But it helps to try, right? Woven throughout your touchstone moments, I see the compassion that you will take into your classroom. Your future students are lucky indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree that it helps to love someone. It is one of my biggest beliefs that teachers should have compassion at the root of their pedagogies, and it definitely is the root of mine.


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