May 8, 2012
Self Assessment Essay
Switching Gears: Going from Getting by to Excelling
My first year of college is quickly coming to a close and each day I am bombarded with a plethora of questions. Majority of the questions that I have been asked ranged from “how does it feel?” to “how do you think you did this semester?” Not once was I asked “what did you learn” and to me, this is the most important question of all. For a thirty thousand dollar price tag I better have learned something and indeed I have. I have learned that in order to be a good student I must able to adapt to my teacher’s teaching method. In a way, I must be like a Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt and be good at switching gears because failure to do so will result in a crash or in my case a bad grade. The switching of my gears was a difficult one I must admit. I went from a somewhat precarious professor to one who debunks the theory that college professors are pushovers. But I wouldn’t change places with anyone despite the ups and downs I faced because the knowledge that I have gained is priceless and I transformed into a better writer.
This transformation occurred in my second semester English class with my teacher Professor Peterson. The improvement of my work came overtime and is seen throughout my assignments, but my progress is most evident in three of my major and minor works. Both, my first and final drafts of select works will be provided so my growth can be seen. The three major artifacts that I am choosing to include are my literary analysis, my slave narrative prospectus, along with my slave narrative paper, and lastly my collaborative history research presentation partnered with my final history paper in CMS. The minor artifacts that I am choosing to highlight include my business packet, and two of my weekly blogs ”Black love is Beauitful” “cause effects of being an athlete” and business packet.
The first piece of work that I will examine is in my opinion, my best work within my major artifacts. This piece of work is my literary analysis first draft. I believe this is my best work because it was towards the end of the year and during this time I gained a lot of skills that helped better my writing. For example, I learned to incorporate TRI within all my papers. TRI stands for Topic Restriction and Illustration. This strategy helps guide the paper along instead of just having it just wonder all over the place. In the beginning of writing my initial draft, I felt was great. I met all the criteria requirements. These requirements include: three pages of texts, an academic title and a critical framework. Also, I felt that I gave a good analysis of what Nathaniel Hawthorne was saying with his work Young “Goodman Brown” and TRI was included. Despite how I felt it, ultimately fell upon my professor’s shoulders. Upon receiving my comments, coupled with my low score my heart sank but it was leveled out by the uplifting comments. To my dismay, it turns out that in my original draft I left out a few critical things that make a paper a paper. There was a dearth of detail on what Hawthorne was trying to convey with his work. In place of writing what the work meant I wrote about what happened. This is not a literary analysis. This was not the only mistake I made. For instance, I didn’t have three full pages of text; I did not have a work cited page and most importantly I forgot to integrate an intriguing thesis. Without a thesis my essay was not an essay at all instead it was just pages full of opinions, no organized thought.
I blame this fully on the gear that I was stuck in. I thought since the year was concluding I could begin to slow down but I was told in my comments from my professor that a good student would turn it to fourth gear because this is the final lap. So with the conclusion of my literary analysis final draft I adapted to what my teacher asked for and I made sure to rectify these previous mistakes. I did this by including three full pages. My critical frame work was from a historic point of view. My work cited page was present and my thesis was more than detailed. And as a whole my analysis had a relevant introduction, body, and conclusion that tied back into the thesis.
Although I did not do as well as I wanted to do on my literary analysis I still gained I great deal of knowledge on how to make it better. And most importantly progress was made. But it was not always like this. The major artifact before this one, my research prospectus first draft and Slave Narrative Paper were mundane. For starters, my prospectus was a colossal failure. I did not have a very good academic title. My thesis was basically nonexistent and there were a great number of grammatical errors. The central problem seemed to be that there was no TRI. With no TRI there is no paper. This starts with having a strong thesis though. It is like driving a race car. You have to have good tires and a good engine, but the heart of the car is the driver. With no driver the car does not move. Same with a paper, with no thesis the paper cannot be written there is no direction. In order to fix these mistakes I had to be a more meticulous writer. I had to nitpick at every little detail and make sure everything matched up. With my revised prospectus, I added a better thesis the best I could but everything else I let be. I did this for the simple fact that I had absolutely nothing to write about and the fact that I did not want to write the paper did not help. Sadly, because of this choice my grade suffered. This occurred for one reason and one reason only. I was not able to get a good grade because I had not read the entire work that I was to be analyzing and my grade on both assignments reflected that. I fixed the grammatical errors and outside threading of the paper but in regards to the meat of the paper I had none. The TRI method that I mentioned previously in my literary analysis of course was not in this paper either because I had not yet learned how to use this method properly.
My slave narrative prospectus and slave narrative paper are perfect examples of me not being able to fully adapt to my teacher’s method but knowledge was still gained and a gear was switched. This switch in gears is evident in my final major artifact. This last artifact is my Collaborative History Research Presentation and my Final History Research Paper. Before doing this specific assignment I had the propensity to do history papers last minute because usually history papers are easier to write. Thanks to prior experiences and the growth that I had in my English class, I decided against it and made up my mind to start early. This is an example of my teacher’s method rubbing off on me. This method forces you to be diligent and prolific. Anything less is unsatisfactory and will lead to precarious situations down the road. The head start really helped me gather and organize my thoughts and ideas for my presentation. Luckily, my niche is public speaking and the presentation aspect was going to be a breeze. The gathering of the content that I wanted to convey was the tricky part. I had to first formulate a thesis which by now was a lot easier than it had been previously with my research prospectus because I researched a great deal about what I wanted to write on. My topic was on the Haitian revolution and what made it unique.
Next I had to apply the concept of SPA. This is important because SPA always helps you form your paper, essay, speech etc. SPA means Subject Purpose and Audience. This is applied to any type of writing, blog, or speech. In regards to my presentation my subject was the Haitian Revolution, my purpose was to educate my audience on what the Haitian Revolution was and what made it special. And lastly my audience included my peers along with my professor. In the end, my assiduous attitude along with prayer led me to getting an A on the assignment. To place a cherry on top, my professor left laudatory comments on the assignment rubric. The good feeling that I had from this presentation carried over to my final history paper and I did better than I expected. I ended up earning a B-. I credit the success of these assignments to my adaptation of what is expected of me and my ability to use the tools that are giving to me to perfect my work. These actions in the end make me a superior writer.
Certainly, my growth did not end or is not confined to just my major artifacts. My improvement also had an effect on my minor assignments. That is not to say that growing pains were not felt in the process. This is especial distinct in my first minor assignment that I would like to highlight. That is my blog entitled “Black Love is Beautiful”. Before getting to the analysis aspect of this work I need to set the stage for what made this difficult for me. Every week my teacher expected us to write a weekly blog about anything that occurred that week as long as it can be shared in an academic setting. Initially, this did not seem like a tall order until the first one was due. I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about and what made it worse was that I waited to the last minute to start the assignment. And I did this on multiple occasions all because I was not in the right gear. Problems with my blog included lack of depth and incite. It did not help that it did not meet the minimum two hundred and fifty word requirement either. Other then these two things the biggest issue I continued to face with these weekly blogs was time management.
However, I was not completely out of the race and like an iguana, I adapted to my surroundings and made time for these weekly blogs each week hence forth. This is adaptation to my crutch that used to hinder my abilities is visible in another one of my weekly blogs entitled “cause and effect of being an athlete”. In it, I met every single requirement needed for me to receive an A. I exceeded the word obligation and the content was pungent with stimulating thoughts. I was able to excel on this blog because I identified my mistakes, revisited and proofread my work and last I switched gears from being lazy and unorganized to studious and on top of my game in first place. This is proven with the crown jewel of my minor assignments which is my Business_Packet. This task called for us to include a cover letter, a resume, and a thank you letter. Although I did not receive a high grade, I received something better which is an example or taste of what I will have to do in the future. Now that I have gained experience in researching a job in the future, it won’t be hard because I have done it before. And this experience is invaluable. It has allowed me to be a greater writer then I was beforehand.
The knowledge and wherewithal that I have gained from this English class is something that will stick with me during my matriculation through Clark Atlanta University. Mainly I will not forget the TRI and SPA methods of writing. But the life lessons as well. Previous to being in Professor Peterson’s class I was in another English class that did not challenge me. I was lazy and my writing suffered for it. Basically I was cruising in first gear. Upon being thrust into Peterson’s class I learned how to shift from first to fourth gear although the transition was not an easy one. But the pain is definitely outweighed by the gain. I have no regrets about changing teachers because it was for my betterment. The ultimate goal of every college student is graduation but if along the way no one challenges you what is the point? You have gained nothing for the price of admission except a handful or hangovers and stomach aches from the café food. All and all, I had a great experience in this class.