- Yes, I have classes that tip the scales at over 40 students a period.
- Yes, I told my 7th period that we should apply for Statehood.
- Yes, due to a lack of supply, I am several desks short and some students are sitting in spare chairs, on the floor, on the counters and, at times, even at MY desk.
- Yes, due to budget cuts, we lost our duplicating clerk this year and yes, due to budget cuts, we lost our book clerk last year.
- Yes, our receptionist and attendance ladies are killing themselves making up the slack in both the duplicating and book rooms. They are saints.
- Yes, due to budget cuts, the PAR (Peer Assistance Review) program, for whom I was a consulting teacher, was discontinued, resulting in a $4400/year reduction in my income.
- Yes, hand sanitizers were installed in each classroom to assuage the paranoia surrounding the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) giving my classroom a distinctly "Men's Room" feel.
- Yes, if a student's hands are under the desk or in their pockets, chances are he or she is texting friends--often from row to row within the same class.
- Yes, the PTSA had to beg for donations for their annual Supply Day just so I would have enough materials (paper, staplers, folders, etc) to make it through last year and the beginning of this year. Thank you; you are the Santa's elves of education.
- Yes, state-of-the-art projection systems and document cameras were in installed in every classroom last year--thank you local voters.
- Yes, we just opened our brand new stadium, where people are congregating and enjoying themselves even as I write this.
- Yes, there are plenty of other improvements that I'm probably completely unaware of.
- Yes, the colleagues in my English Department are some of the smartest, most talented teachers I've ever had the privilege to work with (including those who should still be here).
- Yes, I would include the rest of the faculty and staff in that assessment.
- Yes, the park-like setting has made driving up to the campus a joy every day of the over 6,000 days I've taught here. The recently replaced grass is a luxury we should never take for granted.
- Yes, we have some of the most hard-working, motivated, and dedicated students I've ever seen.
- Yes, I'm the only teacher who has taught in Room E-4 from the day it was built, a concrete detail of which I tremendously proud.
- Yes, I will be attending a workshop next week where I will receive a new laptop that will assist me in teaching thanks to features I can only now dream about.
- Yes, I go to bed every night feeling not only that I've made a contribution to my society, but that I have created a ripple effect in the future.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
- Yes, I will teach these children. No matter what. And there's nothing you can throw at me that will keep me from that purpose.
For the past two years or so, I've been telling my students that if they learn nothing else before they walk out the door of my classroom in June, that they should remember that two of the most important elements of good writing are precision and clarity.
Precision refers to the idea of saying exactly
what you mean. This is largely due to vocabulary. But it's not so important to use the biggest word, I tell them, but to use the right
word that communicates the specific message you are trying to send. In fact, large or hard to understand words often interfere with our message and confuse or frustrate our readers. Often in our attempts to sound "smart," we alienate our audience. Consequently, I tell my students that each word they learn is a tool in your writer's toolbox, and that the more words they know (and can use accurately), the more successful they will be as writers.
Clarity, on the other hand, refers to making your message as clear as it can possibly be. This is achieved largely through having a logical structure for your piece and organizing your thoughts in a way that is clear to the reader. It also is a function of sentence structure, clear and accurate punctuation, and often a well-written and specific thesis. Once again, trying to impress the reader with overly-written or excessively flowery prose will just serve to annoy them (and, in this case, I say, the audience is your teacher and an annoyed teacher is less likely to give you the grade you'd prefer on that particular piece of writing.)
Whether you're writing your doctoral dissertation or a note to hang on the fridge telling mom you went to the 7-11 for a Cherry Slurpee, employing both precision and clarity will increase your chances of communicating your message effectively and, as a result, getting what you want.
And isn't that what communicating is really all about?