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Semester in Review: Grammar Parties, Risque Literature, and Commanding Respect

Here we are at the end of another semester. These “semester in review” articles have become a recurring trend for me over the past couple of years, so I decided I had to continue the tradition. Since I recently finished student teaching, I chose to share some of my favorite moments from the experience. I also included a follow-up anecdote to my last article. Cheers to the end of another semester!

“There are a lot of morons out there.”

One evening, a friend of mine asked me if I could do her a favor and pick up a dress that her mother was dropping off at the front of New Hall. I gladly agreed to do it because I knew that meant I would get to see Mrs. DaSilva, an iconic and powerful woman. 

Just as I walked out of the building and said hello, Mrs. DaSilva began saying, “I’ve heard that a man has disrespected you. While Alexis thinks violence is the answer, I have other thoughts.” It felt as if the fairy godmother of women’s empowerment had arrived at the front door of New Hall with wisdom fairy dust to sprinkle everywhere. Since I was still a bit shaken up about what had happened, I knew a visit from Mrs. DaSilva could be just what I needed.

Talking to Mrs. DaSilva that evening reminded me that when people treat you poorly it is not usually because of anything that you did. People often say awful and hurtful things because they are driven by their own insecurities. When I looked at my situation with that in mind, it was clear to me that insecurity was what led the dirty rat in question to say those things to me. How embarrassing for him.

Mrs. DaSilva also reminded me that you have to command respect from others because it is only when you command respect that you will begin to weed out the people who do not belong in your life. I also enjoyed hearing Mrs. DaSilva tell me “there are a lot of morons out there” in her Rhode Island accent. 

Therefore, if you enjoyed reading my last article, you have Mrs. DaSilva to thank. It was right when I walked back into New Hall that I decided it was time to click “publish.”

Risque Literature Generates Student Interest

During my student-teaching extravaganza, one of the texts I read with my students was the ever-famous play, The Crucible. Since my program supervisor had previously told me to try something new during one of our meetings, I decided it would be fun to have my students read certain scenes of the play aloud during our class time. The first one I selected was the initial scene between Abigail and Proctor. For those who did not have to read The Crucible in high school, Proctor and Abigail are former lovers. While Proctor is a married man, he messed around with Abigail. Based on my gentle skim of the scene the night prior, I figured it would provide some good moments to talk about close reading and word choice. Silly me.

When the time came to have my students read the scene, I told them that it would be a scene between two lovers, so it would be the least amount of AWK if two besties read it together. Unsurprisingly, two of my most lively participants from the mischief section of the room volunteered to read.

The two of them began reading and all was going well. Then, there was a certain point when the boy reading for Abigail stopped and looked up at me with a bright red face. I couldn’t quite figure out why he was the color of a tomato until he began reading the line “I remember when you clutched my back and sweated like a stallion behind my house.” My gentle skim apparently missed that risque line. I immediately realized that I had an OOPS situation on my hands. Once he finished reading, he shouted “MISS SOUSA, AM I A SIDE PIECE?”

Once I told him that Abigail was indeed Proctor’s side piece, I had never seen my students so interested in The Crucible. They could not wait to find out what happened to Abigail and Proctor’s romance afterward. I guess sometimes all it takes to increase adolescents’ interest in a play is a sexually-suggestive line. That one line did more to generate student interest than any of the other activities I had planned. I guess that moment can be referred to as a “happy accident.”

Host a Grammar Party

I have a confession: teaching for me is almost like being a performer on a stage. At the start of class, I love prancing up and down the rows and asking everyone what is going on in their lives and how they are doing. Those jokes about teachers being like stage performers since they both have five shows a day are true. I love putting on a big entertaining show and presenting my true personality to my students. The best part is seeing the audience come to life and take part in the performance too.

During a professional development day, I was sitting in a meeting with other English teachers. One of them asked what I was doing the other day in class. Apparently, he had walked by my class and seen the audience in quite a lively, party-like state. When I told him we were doing a grammar lesson, he asked, “What do you do to get them that interested in grammar? Is it because you are a happy person?” After all, grammar is notorious for being a snoozer.

I didn’t really want to confess to the other teachers sitting around me, but I don’t really do anything too out of the ordinary when I teach grammar. 

Since that day, I’ve tried to figure out how I am able to engage my students, even when we are doing something as bleh as distinguishing phrases from clauses. All that I can come up with for an answer is that I show my authentic personality to my students when I teach. I am sweet with a dash of sass. It’s the sweetness that makes them raise their hands with confidence and smile when I affirm them or give them a sticker. However, the sass lets them know I mean business. I will never stop telling my students to put their phones away and listen to me because I like attention. I will also never stop telling my students to stop playing their game pigeon over iMessage, leave 2016, and come join us here in 2021. At the end of the day, if my sweet sassiness turns a grammar lesson into a grammar party, then I’ll gladly continue to host. 

Goodbye Cherubs

The Monday after my final day of student teaching, I returned back to school for a goodbye pizza party with the English department. I also stopped by a few of my classes to see my students one last time before I went home for the semester. 

It was strange returning back to school and knowing that the responsibility of teaching those students was no longer in my hands. A few of them came up to me and asked me questions about certain assignments and I had to tell them that they would have to ask their returning teacher since I am technically no longer in charge of the class. I also had a few students ask if they can still send me emails and if I’ll reply to them. However, it wasn’t until I stopped by my last class that I realized how attached I had become to my students over the past few months. Once one of the girls started crying, I almost started crying too.

After I said my final goodbyes and turned in my key to the office, I had a pretty teary ride home back to Stonehill. My student teaching experience has certainly confirmed that I am in the right profession and exactly where I am supposed to be. While leaving my students was sad, I’ve realized that if I can bond with my students that much over three months, then I have a pretty magical career ahead of me. 

Erin Sousa

Stonehill '22

Erin is a senior at Stonehill College and is from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, also known as "Chelmsvegas" to its residents. She is majoring in Secondary Education and English and hopes to become one of those hip and stylish high school English teachers with really cool glasses. Erin loves Maine beach days, country music, and anything to do with mermaids. She writes about her misadventures on Her Campus because she believes everyone is a little crazy, everyone's life is a little crazy, and we can find comfort in being reminded that we aren't alone.
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