After receiving a C+ on “How to Write an Effective High School Paper,” a 10th grade writing assignment that was given to my classmates and me in September, I couldn’t help but think that the year ahead was going to be a complete struggle and bore. Ugh! I thought when seeing my carefully handwritten three-page paper all marked up with red lines, symbols, and illegible comments by my English teacher. In my defense, the other students received from the C to F range, with the exception of one girl who got a B-.

Mrs. Brown (*name change to protect the innocent) positioned herself as the type of teacher who would never even dream of giving out an easy A; it would only be earned if merited. The sight of Mrs. Brown each afternoon could turn your stomach after lunch. Oh, the demands she had on us to become highly effective writers and readers with a strong command of the English language!

One day when another classmate began to zone out during her lecture, she called him out—however, through use of empathy instead of wrath. She opened up and for the first time shared a little bit of her own experience as a high school student with us. She talked about her struggles with writing and how with diligence, she transformed her weaknesses into her strength. She admitted that she too would find herself zoning out as a student only to find that she missed out “on all the learning” that she could have benefited from.

In that moment, Mrs. Brown seemed different; she crossed the line from teacher to one of us: a human. She explained how learning in general can be so much more interesting if one actually pays attention. She added that when one continuously looks at the clock or out the window, time will never pass, and learning feels like a chore, whereas when one is engaged, time passes quickly, and one even wants more of it.

The next day, when I took my seat, I determined to listen intently and perform to the best of my ability so that I too wouldn’t miss out on all of the important things I needed to learn. It worked like magic! The class period flew by, and I finally understood some key writing elements that I was previously fuzzy on.

Mrs. Brown’s class surprisingly ended up becoming my favorite that year, and I ultimately earned my A. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.  If it wasn’t for her hard but meaningful lectures, writing activities, and numerous requests of essay revisions, I don’t believe I would have developed my writing skills and passion for literary expression.

For the remainder of my high school and college career, my confidence as a writer helped me achieve better results and assisted me to reach heights never imagined. It also made my studies that much easier. Other teachers and professors would even compliment me on my abilities and command of my language expression.

So what’s the point of all of this? Writing not only becomes one of the fundamental skills that we need to use as students, but it is used in our everyday lives; both personally and professionally in all types of forms. It’s a type of communication that gives us freedom—the freedom to share our innermost thoughts and convictions with our readers.

By Marisa De Marco-Costanzo

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