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Critique Please

09 Sep

 

I plan on teaching my students to write memoirs. I try to do everything I assign my students. I wrote a memoir, it’s a bit rough, let me know what you think.

Facing Myself

 

I knew she was going to call on me. I knew because everyone told me she was going to. They knew because yesterday when I was absent she had called on me to read the posuk. When she realized I wasn’t there, she had said she would call on me the next day. 

 

I sat there in my seat; it was the second to last seat in the last row closest to the windows. I was holding my breath with a sick queasy feeling in my stomach; I sat there, and waited for her to call my name. The air-conditioner protruded slightly into my desk space. I tried to focus on the knobs and switches, but I knew she was going to call on me; everything just blurred.

            I didn’t get along with her. I had a big mouth, and she, a turned up nose. She didn’t have the best complexion, so she tried to cover it up with make-up. She would put on too much foundation, and wouldn’t blend it in properly. I would snigger and point at the dark unnatural patches along her jaw line. I don’t think she liked that. She was a permanent substitute. Miss Weiss got married and moved to Israel, and we got stuck with her, Miss Fried.

            I was never good at reading Hebrew. I was never good at memorization. So when it came to memorizing the translation of the Chumish in Yiddish (another language foreign to me) I was a lost case. She knew that, so she’d threaten me with it. If I wasn’t good she’d threaten to make me read a posuk. Today she wasn’t just threatening; today it was happening. I’d be made a fool of in front of my entire class.

In truth, I wasn’t really scared of my class, but more of myself. I knew I didn’t know the material, but the teacher couldn’t be sure of that unless she tested me. I wouldn’t be proven stupid to myself until she tested me. Once I couldn’t answer her demands I’d know I was stupid, it would be confirmed. There were no more maybes, no more pretending once she called on me. I’d be stupid, and that’s what I was afraid of.

            None of my classmates thought of me as stupid. I was tops in English studies. They didn’t know how scared I was. They couldn’t feel the bile rising in my throat. I was cool. I acted like I didn’t care. The problem was, I cared too much, and this was the only way to defend myself. I tried to pull myself together. Tried to focus on the open Chumish in front of me, but she was going to call on me, and there was nothing I could do about it.

“Naomi Zeigler”

            My body contracted instantly. Like it was trying to shrink and hide, make me disappear. I looked up at her, and in opposition to everything I felt, I responded very cockily.

“Yes.” I answered, more as a statement than a question. She matched my gaze and said,

“Read posuk zayin for us, please.”

She called on me, just like they said she would. Just like I knew she would eventually. She knew what she was doing to me. She knew, and enjoyed it.

I never forgave her.

 

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11 Comments

Posted by on September 9, 2008 in Teaching

 

Tags: , ,

11 responses to “Critique Please

  1. Mikeinmidwood

    September 10, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Very well written

     
  2. frumpunk

    September 10, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Yes, very good. Is it a personal account or fiction? And why would you be translating into yiddish? I assume this was a chassidish school?

     
  3. tooyoungtoteach

    September 10, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    This is a personal account, 5th grade. The point of a memoir is that it’s true.
    And no it’s not a chassidshe school…I would have known yiddish well then…I was put into thde hebrew/yiddish class in elementary school, which meant I didn’t learn either language.

     
  4. BigSis

    September 10, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    oh do i remember those days, i prayed all my school years hoping i wouldn’t be called on, some days they were answered the others i got to make a fool out of myself………so I’m wondering if you as a teacher leave those students who don’t want to be called on alone?

     
  5. tooyoungtoteach

    September 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I don’t do review, so I don’t have an oppurtunity to torture my students. But I would never purposely call on a kid to spite them.

     
  6. tooyoungtoteach

    September 11, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Thanks Mike, and Punk, but those are comments…I used the word critique specifically. Can you pinpoint things that you liked, or didn’t?

     
  7. The Babysitter

    September 11, 2008 at 7:32 am

    That was excellent, well written. I liked how you repeated stuff for emphasis.

    We also did the Yiddish translation, I was never good at that either. When I was in 5th grade a friend of mine got out of having to do the Yiddish, so I tried to get out of it too, my mother spoke to my teacher about it, and she said I only had to be responsible for one posuk we learnt a day in Yiddish, the rest only the English.

    I had never volunteered myself to be called on because I thought it was bragging to show what I know, but secretly sometimes I wanted them to call on me, just to show that I really did know my stuff.

    But with reading pesukim and Rashi I was never as good as the other kids. I felt like they were more natural at it. So I can relate to this. That was mean of her to call on you to spite you and show that you didn’t know it. That’s just horrible, makes a child loose all the confidence in what they know, and to be strong to speak in class again.

     
  8. The Hair on My Head

    September 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    That was really very well written. Reading it reminded me of those times……back in elementary school…and just so u know….i dont think anyone then thought u cared in the least about what happend….most kids just thought u were disinterested

     
  9. EndOfWorld

    September 18, 2008 at 12:17 am

    (Let’s see…what was the equation again? Oh, right…start with nice, move onto critique, end with nice. Okay)

    Praise I:Nice font. It really helped bring across the message clearly, especially those quotation marks you used. And I liked the effect your vowels and consonants had on the overall decoding.

    Critique: Title. The article’s surface conflict seems to be dealing with a relationship between a student and teacher. The title gives it all away. How about letting the little kiddies use their gray cells a bit and not give it away?

    You can actually eliminate the first paragraph. The second paragraph does an awesome job of launching you right into the thoughts and emotions of the “hero” (haha). The first paragraph is (I’m assuming) meant as a flashback introduction, but you could live without it.

    Also-there’s something to be said about saying less. (Which you probably don’t say, because you’re trying to say less, right?). How about this combination for the two paragraphs of “In truth, I wasnt really scared” and “none of my classmates” Again, instead of saying straight out “I was scared more of myself,” leave a bit to the imagination.

    BTW, I’m just doing with my comp II teacher did to me. She completely decimated a story I had written with her “helpful” red pen marks, but it actually ended up sounded more…sophisticated. Less is more

    “In truth, I wasn’t really scared of my. I knew I didn’t know the material, but the teacher couldn’t be sure of that unless she tested me. I wouldn’t be proven stupid to myself until she tested me. Once I couldn’t answer her demands, I’d be stupid. None of my classmates thought of me as stupid. I was tops in English studies. They couldn’t feel the bile rising in my throat. I was cool. I acted like I didn’t care.

    The problem was, I cared too much, and this was the only way to defend myself. I tried to pull myself together. Tried to focus on the open Chumish in front of me, but she was going to call on me, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

    praise II: Nice one liner ending. Don’t forget to add “G-d bless America”

     
  10. tooyoungtoteach

    September 18, 2008 at 12:26 am

    End of World, I love you.

     
  11. EndOfWorld

    September 18, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    *smooch*

     

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