Characterizations

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

BooksWhile my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

While my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.

As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

While my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.

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