Congratulations to Sharon Murchie for being CRWP’s February Feature Spotlight. Please take a moment and read about Sharon below.
I was in the 2015 cohort. Specific memory is connecting with Janet Neyer, and writing a book chapter together about something we are both passionate about: teaching students to be discerning users of the Internet. Not only was it our first major print publication, but it really allowed us the chance to work together and craft something that we were really proud of. Sitting in a booth at Panera together, editing and finalizing our submission, and watching it all come together, was amazing. I still remember cheering when I suddenly realized what the final sentence of the chapter needed to be and how we celebrated.
My favorite thing about teaching writing is grading papers. J/K. I love witnessing the student growth in confidence, as they start to believe that maybe they CAN write, and that they not only are allowed to use their voice and express themselves, but they SHOULD.
A recent published piece is “How a Bad Bill Becomes a Bad Law,” is at Tropics of Meta. It’s actually part of my doctoral dissertation. Not only was I passionate about the research behind this piece, but it’s a genre I’ve never written in before. Not only does this piece solidify the fact that I am a writer, but it allowed me to see that I could actually be a journalist. I can do more than write academic papers: I can seek out and find truth.
My Tropics of Meta byline is here: https://tropicsofmeta.com/author/smurchiesgmailcom/
Almost everything else I’ve published that is available digitally is linked to my LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharon-murchie-4aa79718b/
Book chapter w/Janet: https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004365360/BP000011.xml
CRWP byline: http://chippewariverwp.org/blog/?s=sharon+murchie
Medium byline: https://medium.com/@smurchies
My favorite authors are John Steinbeck and Zora Neale Hurston.
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath is a masterpiece blending journalism and fiction. It’s a call to arms and it still is so powerful today. Cannery Row is such a gorgeous sketch of humanity. East of Eden is a saga of strength and weakness and survival. Love his writing. It’s gritty and honest and gutting and hopeful.
Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie is so strong and beautiful inside and out. She is a powerhouse, and she takes no shit from anyone. She knows who she is and she is profound. And the book is such an incredible capture of humanity, of culture, of language. It’s just a gorgeous book. When her Nanny says, “Put me down easy, Janie, Ah’m a cracked plate.” –I feel that. I know what that feels like, to feel fragile and vulnerable, and to have your fate –your survival– be in someone else’s hands. When Janie said, “She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.” That is exactly the perfect way to express that feeling: when someone lets us down, when we realize that we had somehow idolized them and they were just someone we made up, someone we pinned our hopes to and our future on, and they can never live up to our expectations of them.
My words of advice to new teachers is “You will never be perfect. But you will be enough.” It is absolutely crushing for new teachers to realize that, no matter how many hours they put in, no matter how much energy and passion they bring, no matter how much they care, no matter how much they strive for excellence…kids will fail. Parents will be angry. Admin will find the tiniest flaw and make us feel like a failure. But kids failing does not mean that we failed. And flaws are not failure. We are human, and we will make mistakes and we literally cannot do it all, save them all, and be all that they need, no matter how much of ourselves we give. But what we can be is authentic, vulnerable, real, honest, reflective, striving. And that is enough. We have to allow ourselves to be enough.
Sharon has been a teacher for 25 years and currently teaches at Okemos High School in Michigan. You can follow Sharon on Twitter: @smurchies.