Monday, November 19, 2007

True Confessions

Remember those old magazines called True Confessions? Actually, as I began to write this post, I wondered if the magazine still exists. And it does!

Well, the confession I am about to make would never make this magazine. I have so little in my life that is racy enough for the cover announcements.

If I did, the announcement would read--I was not the most industrious student in the world! Or even in my college.

When I teach students, and interact with them, always at the back of my mind is the strong memory I have of the type of student I was. So, herewith three confessions.

1) I did not excel at all my subjects. When I entered college, I had aspirations of studying to become a physician. Well, I quickly ran into a subject called Chemistry, and knew my aspirations were doomed. I managed a C the first semester, and escaped with a D the second semester. So much for being a physician.

I still have my old grade transcripts, and as I look back over them, even in my eventual major subject--English--I did not always get top grades. In fact, I never made the Dean's list.

I did, however, excel at taking exams, and was exempted from one required course based on an exam. Further, I did very well on Graduate Record Exams (GREs) earning one of the highest grades anyone from my college had earned to that point.

2) I did not always start my papers timely. Perhaps the most egregious example of this tendency occurred when I was in graduate school. I was writing a paper for the seminar on Chaucer and. . .well, I just didn't get started early enough. By the time I had to leave for class, I was still typing the paper. So, I took along my little portable typewriter, and with it balanced on my knees, I kept typing while my girlfriend drove me to class. I scrunched what should have been 4 or 5 pages into one closing page. As a result, I failed the paper and the professor told me to rewrite it. When I did, he gave me a B, and told me in no uncertain terms that the paper would have been an A, had I put the effort into it initially.

3) I did not always read the assignments in advance of class. In fact, the habit was brought crashingly back to my recollection in a most unusual way. After grad school, I returned to my undergraduate alma mater as my first teaching career. Soon after I began teaching, some of my students came to me and said--do you know what Dr. S told us about you? Puzzled, I said--no. Then they said--he said we have to read our assignments; otherwise we won't be able to discuss intelligently in class. In fact, he continued, there is only one student that I had who could discuss intelligently without having read the assignment--Miss C was the only one who could do that (that was me!).

I went to him, my former professor and now colleague, and said--please stop telling my students about my old habits. Now, I find this story hilarious, but at the time I was mortified.

Don't tell the students what I did as a student!


Anonymous said...

Ah yes Donna - those were true confessions of a teacher!! It is interesting to look back at ourselves as we progress hopefully. I always told my children that making a mistake was one way of learning, just don't keep repeating the same mistake!!

Beverly said...

Oh, I love that. I laughed out loud at your professor's statement.
They say true confession is good for the soul. Now we know.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I wonder what brought on this need to confess???

You are forgiven.

Your student life has surely made you a better, and more sympathetic, teacher.

Jean said...

Too funny!

Pam said...

OMG! I remember this magazine. I used to sneak into my room every once in awhile.

I think it's good that you remember your foibles as a student, it makes you a better teacher.

Anvilcloud said...

I was an absolutely terrible high school student. Beside my grade 12 yearbook picture, they noted "undone homework" as a prime characteristic.

Mary said...

I just can't believe you were a slacker, Donna! I knew a high school chemistry teacher with a masters who told me she only earned a 2.0 gpa. She knew how to take the tests and banked on it. Scored 1620 on SATs but didn't do a lick of work in the classroom.

Funny post. You are still the tops, in my book.

TaraDharma said...

good to know that even the academically inclined had tough years in school! I certainly did. I was too scared to even try chemistry!

I was a slacker, for sure, always putting off papers (lit major....) and and not reading ahead. I think of how much more I could have gotten from it had I "applied myslef!" Ah well, water under the bridge.

found you via Laura

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mauigirl said...

OMG, we must be twins separated at birth. I once finished a paper at the last minute after typing it all night and I got the paper done in time for class, but not the bibliography! The professor (this was college) was nice enough to accept the bibliography the next day.

I also did very well on standardized tests but was a terrible procrastinator for all of my homework and papers.

I was a biology major freshman year of college, but like you, Chemistry did me in (organic chemistry) and I switched to journalism! And then I never actually did journalism but ended up in market research.