The last week of school I had a free-for-all Q&A session with my AP students that I wrote about here. Numerous people asked for the answers to these questions, so here they are!
Q: What was the scariest thing going into college?
A: I was very, very homesick my first semester. I struggled academically, mostly because I expected myself to get As in everything like I always had, with little effort, and at Harvard that didn’t cut it. In fact, if I hadn’t had final exams scheduled after Christmas break that year (something they changed after that semester) I’m not sure I would have gone back. Also, it was scary because I was afraid everyone would expect me to party and drink, and I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t, but I found that definitely was not the case.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Anything with artichokes or mushrooms. My husband doesn’t eat either, so I rarely make them at home. My favorite thing eating out is when I find a portobello burger. Also he hates Hawaiian pizza (THIS is his perspective) so I also love that.
Q: What is the coolest experience you’ve ever had?
A: I loved my Disney cruise honeymoon to the Caribbean. We went on a tour of the Graycliff hotel and wine cellars in Nassau, and we were the only two people on it. As part of the tour we got to hand-roll cigars with workers who only spoken Spanish. I couldn’t get the roll just right, and the gentleman helping me insisted, “No no, like this, you know – like joint.” Best vacation ever. Also, senior year of college I got to meet Yo-yo Ma, and he congratulated me on finishing my senior thesis.
|“You know – like joint!”
|The Graycliff cellar – they claim the oldest bottle of port…ever(?)|
|Pirate night on our Disney cruise – one of my favorite pictures we’ve ever taken|
Q: What’s your scariest experience?
A: Any of my car accidents. See my previous blog post. Also, my father got very sick with sepsis a few years back. He very nearly died. That was terrifying for all of us.
Q: Most embarrassing?
A: Last year teaching I got a batch of freshmen that was about 70% the freshman football team. They were sports savvy, and desperately wanted to know if I knew Jeremy Lin in college. In fact, we were both in Leverett House (the Hufflepuff of Harvard), and he was a year above me I knew him in passing – like, I might have sold him a ticket to the house semi-formal. He certainly wouldn’t know me. But my senior year my roommates and I lived in the same suite of dorm rooms that he and his roommates did the year prior. I told my students that there was a chance I may have slept in the same bed as Jeremy Lin once did. They left class that day telling their friends how their freshman English teacher slept with Jeremy Lin. Unsurprisingly, their English grades reflected their lack of attention to detail.
Q: Should I get a job freshman year of college?
A: Yes. 20 hours a week working > 20 hours a week partying and drinking. $$$ > freshmen 15. I worked two jobs my freshman year: work study at the library, and cleaning dorm bathrooms. Paid all my books and living expenses that weren’t covered by financial aid.
|This is my dorm-cleaning buddy freshman year|
Q: What can you teach us about time management?
A: I actually saw a counselor my freshman year of college because I was so overwhelmed with academics (Harvard actually has counselors whose primary job is to calm down stressed out honors kids with tea and coping mechanisms). I ended up adopting several methods: I am a queen of Google calendars, I only did homework for certain classes on certain days (and if I couldn’t finish the reading, oh well), and I learned to prioritize. I did everything for all my sociology classes because I loved those. I did the bare minimum for classes like my astrophysics class because why am I even in this? In my adult life, I continue to rock Google calendars and recently adopted bullet journalling, which is another blog post.
Q: What do you dream about?
A: Pregnancy dreams are the WORST. A lot of trying to run away from a murderer with my kids, but I’m also late to an orchestra concert and I either don’t have my concert dress or my cello. Also they tend to take place at trippy places that in my dreams are my house or my school, but are actually places like Monticello.
Q: Would I get into Harvard?
A: You don’t get in to 100% of the places you don’t apply (but probably not because <5% get in).
Q: Do you have any advice for someone looking to go into teaching?
A: Know that the first year sucks, and sometime around Thanksgiving you will be convinced you are terrible at this and you should quit. Know this is normal. If you can make it successfully to year 3, you might make a go of it! Here was my first year post where I saw the graph of a first-year teacher’s attitude. I’m pretty sure colleges don’t show you this because they think it would scare future teachers away, but I found it helpful to normalize my experience.
Q: Have you ever considered quitting teaching?
A: Yes. But not today.
Q: Did you party in college?
A: Not a whole lot. I drank champagne at a choir party freshman year and felt guilty for weeks. Also I always signed up to work the early shifts at the library on Saturday to have more weekend time, and I couldn’t be out late partying if I had to be up at 7. My biggest party was probably when the Packers won the Super Bowl my senior year. I have a couple of crazy stories but nothing that would qualify as hard-core partying.
|Super Bowl party – clearly out of control|
Q: How did you know you were ready to get married?
A: I still don’t have an answer to this question. We were friends all through high school, and I guess I knew he was the person I wanted to be married to. We choose every day to make our marriage work, and don’t leave it to chance. We married young, just after college graduation, and kind of grew up together. I wouldn’t have it any other way. He still makes me laugh, and he still surprises me. He’s an amazing father, as I knew he would be. In some ways I’m shocked our parents went along with our engagement plan, but as we celebrate 6 years in just a few weeks, I’m so glad we did get married when we did!
|An outtake of our engagement shoot in 2010|
Q: Do kids make a marriage better or worse?
Q: Has a student ever made you cry?
A: Yes. I don’t think I ever wrote about it, but my first year teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, I found a very explicitly offensive note a student wrote about me in one of my classroom copies. I took it to my principle and sat and cried and then went home to tell my husband I wanted to quit teaching. We spent the next week trying to analyze the handwriting to pry a confession and were unsuccessful, but we moved several kids around to different periods to separate them. I have since developed a much thicker skin and real classroom management skills, but that was the worst.