another PS - critique please!

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sarahlawg
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another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:39 pm

*reposted below. Thanks!
Last edited by sarahlawg on Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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nataliejane38
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby nataliejane38 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:55 pm

It begins well and ends well but I would take out everything about the road trip in the middle. It's well written but it sounds too forced - you were not visiting a foreign country you were on a road trip through the US. It makes you sound too naive and I think you can summarize what you are trying to get across in a more effective way by expanding on your experience with the Teach for America program.

sarahlawg
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby sarahlawg » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:02 pm

nataliejane38 wrote:It begins well and ends well but I would take out everything about the road trip in the middle. It's well written but it sounds too forced - you were not visiting a foreign country you were on a road trip through the US. It makes you sound too naive and I think you can summarize what you are trying to get across in a more effective way by expanding on your experience with the Teach for America program.


Thank you for this quick feedback! I definitely was naive. I keep getting caught up in trying to talk about too many things. I will take out the travels in the middle and continue to flesh out my experience with the families. I'll try to repost by tonight/tomorrow.

Any other feedback is still appreciated!

sarahlawg
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby sarahlawg » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:40 am

...
Last edited by sarahlawg on Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nataliejane38
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby nataliejane38 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:36 am

This is excellent!
I would just suggest modifying the last paragraph.
Since you just described in detail your experience with the families I do not think you need those first two sentences. I think the last line is really good though.

sarahlawg
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby sarahlawg » Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:57 pm

Thank you! I will polish it up a bit and work on the last paragraph. I think you're completely right about what you said.
You've been very helpful!

edit: new one posted below
Last edited by sarahlawg on Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bk1
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby bk1 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:01 pm

Your writing style is very clunky and lacks flow. It's hard to say much more than that but when reading it, it just feels like I am tripping over every other word.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:14 pm

this is long-winded and seems a bit insincere.

I almost want to hate the final sentence, but then I don't hate it as much. Well, that's not true, I do hate it. Because you can't make the claim of beauty when you've spent the whole essay writing about squalor and despair. It comes out of nowhere and seems dishonest. I can tell it's something you're attached to, perhaps something you came up with from the beginning. Something that you thought was just so artsy and wonderful that you couldn't let it go?


Let it go.

sarahlawg
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Re: Reworked PS - critique please

Postby sarahlawg » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:46 pm

thanks to both of you. I'm looking to polish quite a bit. I was hoping that the content/topic was going to work.
And yes, that last line actually made more sense with the original essay, as it was more about how much my perspective has changed over the years, thus how my perspective of the squalor changed to beauty. But it has already been taken out, so no need to let go any further :)

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:11 pm

Length is one of my biggest concerns. let me know what I can keep and what I should cut, and if the topic is going to work in general. Thanks!



Outside the dusty air lingers after a cool rain in the desert. A gentle wind carries in that sweet smell, and my attention is brought back to the students in front of me. Each child has a book open, their fingers pointing excitedly to the pictures and the words they can not yet read. Many are tracking letters, making small sounds under their breath. The moment makes me smile in satisfaction and think about my first few weeks as a preschool teacher.

My first day on the job was not in the classroom. In fact, I spent the first week in “pre-service” - training designed to remind you of all the little things the federal government requires of us. On breaks and during discussion times, I picked the brains of my newfound fellow teachers. There was an older woman, previously the owner of a daycare who had now been with my agency for 5 years; a younger woman, around my age, who had just finished her first year; and several others with varying levels of experience. When I told them I studied psychology in college and that I had no experience working with three-, four-, and five-year olds, they chuckled and gave sideways looks to each other. They informed me I was in for quite a ride.

Being who I am, I immediately started discussing the state standards and all the aspirations I had for my incoming batch of students. My enthusiasm was met with hesitation and many a sarcastic “good luck with that.” I could not hide my surprise at their reaction, though they chalked it up to my naivete. They said I just did not understand the attention spans or developmental levels of my future students, and that my expectations were set far too high.

Just weeks before this, I had spent the summer teaching preschool with support from Teach for America through lengthy professional development. Many of these highlighted how important it was to have high expectations, to believe in the students' potential, and maintain a rigorous curriculum. I met my manager early on, and thought for sure that the agency upheld similar beliefs, but, given what my coworkers were saying, that first day had me scratching my head. Suddenly, I found myself struggling with my my lack of expertise in the field and what a high, but realistic expectation really looked like.
I started off cautious, especially with the knowledge that the people who had given me advice had much more experience than I did. I felt I could not discredit them until I had seen it with my own eyes. That first day of school was hard. Children were everywhere, climbing furniture, painting the walls, throwing blocks. By the end of it, I was not sure my colleagues were wrong. Discouraged, but not defeated, I went home every night for the first month to research exactly how to make a preschool classroom work.

As it turns out, young children are not as incapable as some would have you believe. I put my strategic, analytical mind to work on ways in which I could change what I was doing, without sacrificing my objectives, to better meet the needs of the children. My first endeavor was the classroom itself. The children were loud and their hands wandered in circle. I removed the distracting toys from circle and positioned the furniture so that the focal point was where I sat each morning. After this change, students' hands were engaged in the movements I was teaching them instead of the toys, and their eyes gravitated naturally to my stories and props. I moved onto the walls, which I had dollar-store decorated with borders, cutouts and colors galore. On several occasions, I walked into the classroom calmly, but after a short time I would feel myself start to amp up. It occurred to me that this may be happening with the children as well. I shifted to natural, muted colors, and child-made borders and decorations. The students' stopped kicking and jumping into the walls; instead, they proudly spoke of their work and refuse to even sit against the wall, if it meant potentially damaging the artwork.

After making these changes, the students were listening and participating, while sitting calmly in circle, which was already far more than my coworkers said was possible. I now had to think about the curriculum, and how to get the students to master the state standards and beyond. Many of my students, even those who had been in the program for a year already, were unable to hold a pencil, let alone write their name. They could not identify letters, nor could they match numbers to quantity. My colleagues told me this was normal and that many of them would leave with the same limited knowledge with which they started. This was unacceptable to me, as the principal and teachers in the elementary school had already openly expressed their disappointment with students coming in from our program. In fact, the principal said that many of the students from our program scored as low on entrance exams as those with no classroom experience at all. That would not be my class. I searched and searched until I found a well-researched phonics companion to letter-learning. At first, the children looked at me like I was crazy walking like a penguin during P week, and stomping like a horse during H. After weeks of sticking to it, though, I found my students happy to learn letters, curious about sounds, and writing pages full of stories and notes (of course, the letters weren't discernible or in the right order, but they vocalized clearly what they meant).

This year, I spoke with the principal and kindergarten teachers. They said they were blown away by the skills my students exhibited. They were full, active participants in their learning; they wrote their first and last names with all the letters formed correctly; they were the first in their classes to start reading; and the kindergarten teachers were looking to the first grade teachers for activities to keep them from getting bored.

My manager saw the achievements my students had made and asked me specifically to meet with the directors of the agency and curriculum specialists to overhaul the lesson plan that all teachers were required to use. We spent hours pouring over the current curriculum and lesson plan template, analyzing and scrutinizing to see how it could be improved. I pushed for an objective-driven plan, with each objective clearly labeled above their corresponding activities. I also insisted that there be an intentional transition planned for each day, as well as a relevant and engaging story read. At first I was very humbled by them wanting my input, considering several of them held PhDs and Master's degrees. Regardless of the disparity in experience, they took my advice, and this year every teacher used the lesson plan that I had a significant part in creating. It inspires me to know how many students will now be taking a class that will adequately prepare them for future academic success.

Handing out a lesson plan focused on intentionality and state standards would not in itself change teachers' mindset toward their students. Through my success stories and targeted training sessions, I helped reconstruct what they thought was possible for their students. I observe the teachers now, using every minute of the day to build skills with their students.

I was successful in my teaching endeavor not because I had experience or education in the field; rather, I demonstrated my way of thinking critically and the drive toward excellence that informs all aspects of my life. In my future legal career, I will meet many people who will tell me that what I want to do is impossible, that my expectations of justice, equality, and freedom are just too high. But I will approach them with the same method I used in my last year of teaching, never giving up until I find a solution. I will not be afraid to express my ideas in the face of more experienced peers, and I will advance any knowledge I obtain to those it may serve. I look forward to my time in law school, three years to build an arsenal of information with which to arm myself.

CanadianWolf
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:16 am

This essay was a bit painful to read due to your inclusion of too many irrelevant details. Supervisors of uneducated & poorly trained workers tend to over simplify conversations outside of work & you are doing the same in that your writing offers explanations as if your readers were very young & in need of basic training. Part of the problem with your personal statement is that you are so busy complimenting yourself that there is little offering of any substantial insight into you.

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bk1
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby bk1 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:40 am

You're writing a short story when you're supposed to be writing a PS. I've never seen it rain in the desert, but is the air really dusty?

CanadianWolf
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:15 pm

Interesting comment. I also was bothered by dusty desert air after rain. Just doesn't make sense as the rain would clear the air & moist ground is too heavy to float.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:23 pm

sarahlawg wrote:As it turns out, young children are not as incapable as some would have you believe.


Who are these some? Who is this you?

Never use second person in an essay.

Never use over-generalized terms such as "some, many, most" in reference to an unindentified body of people.

If length is a concern, then take a look at your sixth paragraph. Highlight it (yes, all of it) then delete it. Then never think of it again.


QUITE FRANKLY while reading the enthusiasm and vigor you possess when speaking of teaching (I mean, you dedicated an entire paragraph to decorating your classroom, essentially) I don't know why you're leaving the field at all. The world needs more teachers with that type of passion. It doesn't need any more lawyers. Something to think about.

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crysmissmichelle
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby crysmissmichelle » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:03 pm

Teach for America is a resume builder. . . . . Statistics on how many people continue teaching after their service?

Last paragraph says "But I will approach them with the same method I used in my last year of teaching, never giving up until I find a solution." It makes it sound like your first year (which you describe in the essay) was you last year. How many years did you teach?

I actually liked the essay, though it sounds pompous to me as a five year teacher, it seems, from reading other essays and a few guides, that this is the type of essay law schools want.

I do think it needs some serious editing to decide what should stay and what should go.

elonlawgrad
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby elonlawgrad » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:26 pm

I think it’s good for a college paper; but I think there are several ways to improve. Law schools don’t care if you can write “pretty” with a lot of “fluff.” Please don’t take this as being extremely critical; I wrote in a similar style as you before I went to law school; but now I think my writing is much more direct and readable.

I would get rid of the first paragraph altogether. Jump in right away-start at your second paragraph. Start off by saying something like, “I did not spend my first day as a teacher working in the classroom.” (tip: you want to put your subject before your verbs (active voice, rather than passive voice, ie: On breaks and during discussion times, I picked the brains of my newfound fellow teachers. It is much easier to read a sentence which reads: I picked the brains of my new (I’d remove the “found”) fellow teachers during break and discussion time.) Take out “in fact” in the “In fact, I spent…” sentence. It’s not necessary. Also, to shorten, rather than say “there was an older woman…..” you can say something along the lines of “My colleagues ranged in ages Y to Z and had various levels of experience.” Combine the next two sentences, take out the “they chuckled and gave sideways looks to each other.” Rather than saying “three-, four-, and five year olds” just say children ages three to five.

Definitely take out “Being who I am,” it’s uncecessary fluff. Rather than saying, “I immediately started discussing,” just say “I immediately discussed….” Get the picture?

If you’d like for me to continue with my critique, then let me know. I am happy to help.
I think you will get your point across much more effectively if you reconstruct some of your sentences.

If you don't want me to help any further, that's fine, too. I wish you the best!

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:17 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:This essay was a bit painful to read due to your inclusion of too many irrelevant details. Supervisors of uneducated & poorly trained workers tend to over simplify conversations outside of work & you are doing the same in that your writing offers explanations as if your readers were very young & in need of basic training. Part of the problem with your personal statement is that you are so busy complimenting yourself that there is little offering of any substantial insight into you.


Thanks for your imput here. It's kind of funny because someone told me somewhat the opposite. I happen to agree with you, so I can touch that up.
edit: about the complimenting myself... I'm trying to sell myself, right? Is it coming across as insincere?

As for the dusty air after it rains in the desert: yes. It's dusty and so is everything else. It also has a very distinctive smell.
Last edited by sarahlawg on Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:18 pm

bk1 wrote:You're writing a short story when you're supposed to be writing a PS. I've never seen it rain in the desert, but is the air really dusty?


Many people on this site told me to write a story... hm, I may have to find some sort of happy medium?

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bk1
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby bk1 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:21 pm

sarahlawg wrote:Many people on this site told me to write a story... hm, I may have to find some sort of happy medium?


A PS is a story of sorts, nut it shouldn't have all the fluff and flowery prose of other stories. My point is that

saralawg wrote:Outside the dusty air lingers after a cool rain in the desert. A gentle wind carries in that sweet smell,


is not PS writing.

EDIT: Can it work? Yes this type of writing can work but it takes an exceptional writer, which few people are, to pull this kind of writing off effectively in a PS.

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:27 pm

ShuckingNotJiving wrote:
sarahlawg wrote:As it turns out, young children are not as incapable as some would have you believe.


Who are these some? Who is this you?

Never use second person in an essay.

Never use over-generalized terms such as "some, many, most" in reference to an unindentified body of people.

If length is a concern, then take a look at your sixth paragraph. Highlight it (yes, all of it) then delete it. Then never think of it again.


QUITE FRANKLY while reading the enthusiasm and vigor you possess when speaking of teaching (I mean, you dedicated an entire paragraph to decorating your classroom, essentially) I don't know why you're leaving the field at all. The world needs more teachers with that type of passion. It doesn't need any more lawyers. Something to think about.


Thank you for the cutting suggestion! Also, I will be more specific/edit that sentence with the 'some'.

And about needing more teachers with that type of passion..that is exactly what I hope I will leave behind there. Although I feel good about what I am doing in the classroom, it is really not for me (at least not teaching preschool). I will just leave it at that :) Thanks again!

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:31 pm

crysmissmichelle wrote:Teach for America is a resume builder. . . . . Statistics on how many people continue teaching after their service?

Last paragraph says "But I will approach them with the same method I used in my last year of teaching, never giving up until I find a solution." It makes it sound like your first year (which you describe in the essay) was you last year. How many years did you teach?

I actually liked the essay, though it sounds pompous to me as a five year teacher, it seems, from reading other essays and a few guides, that this is the type of essay law schools want.

I do think it needs some serious editing to decide what should stay and what should go.


Sorry, I suppose I should have said in the last year of teaching, because I am currently in my second year.
I did not want it to sound pompous because I did very much respect the fact that I was a first year teacher, and I by no means thought that I could come in and fix everything that was wrong with the place. They asked me to help overhaul the lesson plan and share my successes with other teachers. Do you think I should change it at all so I do not come across that way?

sarahlawg
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:33 pm

elonlawgrad wrote:I think it’s good for a college paper; but I think there are several ways to improve. Law schools don’t care if you can write “pretty” with a lot of “fluff.” Please don’t take this as being extremely critical; I wrote in a similar style as you before I went to law school; but now I think my writing is much more direct and readable.

I would get rid of the first paragraph altogether. Jump in right away-start at your second paragraph. Start off by saying something like, “I did not spend my first day as a teacher working in the classroom.” (tip: you want to put your subject before your verbs (active voice, rather than passive voice, ie: On breaks and during discussion times, I picked the brains of my newfound fellow teachers. It is much easier to read a sentence which reads: I picked the brains of my new (I’d remove the “found”) fellow teachers during break and discussion time.) Take out “in fact” in the “In fact, I spent…” sentence. It’s not necessary. Also, to shorten, rather than say “there was an older woman…..” you can say something along the lines of “My colleagues ranged in ages Y to Z and had various levels of experience.” Combine the next two sentences, take out the “they chuckled and gave sideways looks to each other.” Rather than saying “three-, four-, and five year olds” just say children ages three to five.

Definitely take out “Being who I am,” it’s uncecessary fluff. Rather than saying, “I immediately started discussing,” just say “I immediately discussed….” Get the picture?

If you’d like for me to continue with my critique, then let me know. I am happy to help.
I think you will get your point across much more effectively if you reconstruct some of your sentences.

If you don't want me to help any further, that's fine, too. I wish you the best!


I am happy to take this kind of editing! If you have more, feel free to send it along. I will go through it, sentence by sentence, to try and be more concise and direct with my writing. Thank you!

Hedwig
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Re: another PS - critique please!

Postby Hedwig » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:08 pm

they chuckled and gave sideways looks to each other....

If you keep this:

gave each other sideways looks.




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