Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively captures the author's growth over time at CSUCI. We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.
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Sample Reflective Essay #1
Author: Prefers to remain anonymous
As an English major I have learned to appreciate the peaceful, yet exhilarating moment when my mind engages with an author's thoughts on a page. As Toni Morrison says in The Dancing Mind , "[reading is] to experience one's own mind dancing with another's." In my early days as a college student, I wanted to know the "true" meaning of a work or what the author intended, however, I have now realized this would void literature of its most noteworthy complexities. Individual interpretations bring varied insights to a work and it is also interesting to point out messages the author may not have realized s/he included in the piece.
I have always been a thinker, but throughout my coursework, I have greatly sharpened my critical analysis skills. Instead of focusing on proposed meanings or biographical background, I have learned to continuously ask "why" on many different levels. I challenge myself to dig into a text as deeply as possible and unpack every detail to develop a satisfying close read. Also, by reading multiple novels by the same author I have learned to identify different writing styles and make connections that weave texts together; this helped me develop a deeper understanding of the novels. When I look at one of my freshman level novels and see clean pages, I realize that I did not actively read the book. I guess you could say that I have learned to read with a pen, which has drastically taken my writing to a new level because I am able to connect back with my initial insights marked on the page.
Writing had always been one of my strengths, but it was challenging to take that initial step past the high school, five-paragraph essay form that constricted my ideas for so long. Moving past this form, however, has greatly opened my mind. My thoughts are now able to be more complex because I have learned how to sustain a logical argument in an organized manner. My writing has become increasingly more concise and I no longer have room for added "fluff" or "padding." Another improvement is my ability to point out multiple complexities within a text, instead of sticking to one-sided arguments in my papers. Furthermore, learning how to find peer reviewed journal articles and order books through interlibrary loan has significantly widened the scope of my research, which has lead to more scholarly papers with credible references. My writing is so much more interesting than it used to be.
It is difficult to identify gaps in my knowledge as an English major, only because I feel like I have learned so much. I feel that I have largely expanded my literary analysis and writing skills, but I need to be prepared to teach high school students their required literature. I think it would be useful to identify commonly taught novels in our local high schools and study them myself. By studying the required literature and thinking about how to teach it, I will have a sturdy foundation to work from once I am in the classroom.
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Careers in English and Writing
The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:
- English teacher
- Social media strategist
- Media production (film, TV, internet)
- Print and digital publishing
- Corporate communications
- Foreign service
- Human resources
- Foundations/non-profit management
Learn more about CI's English Program
My Practice Teaching Experience Essay
901 Words4 Pages
Early on in my Block A experience I realised that a major contributing factor to the success, or otherwise, of my lessons was the pace. This is an area that I have looking at improving over the course of my Block A placement.
The advice given by Gererd Dixon (2011: Online) is that;
‘One of the hardest things for new teachers is to inject pace and purpose into lessons while recognizing the needs of slower learners in the class.’
Working out the correct pace for my classes did prove to be a struggle as it does require the teacher to understand the needs of different learners in the room. In moving on too quickly I left students behind, whereas allotting too much time resulted in misbehaviour and boredom. My task was to attempt to come…show more content…
When I looked back at my planning during this time I found that I had not fully understood the purpose of ‘discussion’ or ‘thinking’ time and had instead left the students to their own devices which had generally led to pupils getting off topic and disruptive behaviour to begin. I tried to take this on board when thinking about planning my future lessons, to try and have an idea of what I wanted to achieve by the end of the lesson.
Using another strategy suggested by my subject mentor I began to use verbal reminders of timings throughout the lesson (see week 11, paragraph 2).
‘Think about how people work – we are always more efficient when we have a deadline to meet – and use this to your advantage in the classroom.’ (Cowley, 2009: 50)
I found that students were much more responsive with this tactic in place and it also worked to help keep behaviour under control. Occasionally I would give them a time limit, and then extend or shorten this as appropriate, once I had seen how the students were working. Using this tactic helped me fully manage the fifty minutes of teaching time effectively and also worked to motivate the students to play an active role throughout the lesson. I found that to further help myself and my students to stick to time limits I would also have a timer running on the board especially during periods of group work. On several occasions I found that pupils would stop themselves after the