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The Joys of Being a Freshmen English Teacher


I am always excited to read the "My Name" pieces my students create.  It is so neat to learn the stories of how they were named and how they feel about their names.  The writer's workshop proves to be a fun learning experience for the students.  They get to spend time critiquing each other's papers.  I was amazed this year to see how many students put such a great amount of thought into their projects.  Many of the students papers were quite interesting to read and several were rather comical.  It is refreshing to see that many of  my students still take an interest in writing and are able to use imagery correctly.  If you are in the building, I invite you to stop by my room and check out some of the "My Name" projects located outside of my classroom door.  What an excellent way to start writing freshmen year!

Here is Cisneros' version of "My Name" that the students modeled theirs after,

My Name

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

It was my great-grandmother's name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse--which is supposed to be bad luck if you're born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don't like their women strong.

My great-grandmother. I would've liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn't marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That's the way he did it.

And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn't be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window.

At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister's name Magdalena--which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least- -can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza. would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

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Keep it positive and keep it cheap. The objective of discipline management is building responsible students who manage themselves.
Fred Jones
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