Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Life as a Five Paragraph Essay {SOL 3.08.17}

I enjoy listening to podcasts on my way to school. My ride is about 30 minutes, just long enough to do some serious listening.

On my way to school on Tuesday, I pulled up a podcast from Christy Wright's Business Boutique called "Recognize Your Gifts."

Christy is a podcaster and blogger who helps women start up businesses. If you read my post from Saturday, you may remember that I am leaving the classroom in June to start my own consulting and PD business, Teach Write. I love Christy's podcasts for the practical and inspirational advice she offers each week.

On the podcast I listened to on Tuesday, Christy had a guest, Annie Downs, who in talking about her gifts, said she had a revelation one day when she recognized that her life was like a five paragraph essay. {Format = thesis, detail, detail, detail, conclusion.}

Annie went on to explain that for many years, she was a teacher and thought that teaching was her thesis statement. Her identity was wrapped up in being a teacher and everything she did supported that identity. It was who she was.

But then one day, Annie felt like she needed something more. She still enjoyed teaching but wanted to teach in different ways. She recognized that being a classroom teacher was not her thesis statement, but rather one of her detail paragraphs. Being a classroom teacher was not who she was, it was what she did.

I heard this and pressed the pause button on my phone.

This is exactly the way I feel.

I love teaching. I think being a teacher is both a blessing and a calling. I absolutely love my students and watching them grow. For many years, that was all I wanted.

But for the past few years, I have felt this aching to do more. To do something different. To teach in a new way.

I know I have more detail paragraphs coming. Looking back, I have had a few already. {I'll probably exceed the three paragraph limit. Don't tell the English Comp people.}

I'm not quite sure how they all fit together to form my thesis statement, but I'm thinking really hard about that.

In the meantime, hearing about this five paragraph essay life theory has made me feel a little bit better about my decision to leave the classroom. I don't feel like I'm abandoning ship on my life plan, just changing it a bit.


  1. You have shared a beautiful quote and a thought provoking post this morning, Jennifer. Sometimes doesn't the universe speak to us just when we need to hear it? I'm excited for your new paragraph and can't wait to watch you add the details.

  2. This really resonated with me as I continue to focus on work/life balance. The trouble with seeing your job as your thesis statement (as I did when I started teaching) is that the other details fall to the wayside. Thank you for articulating for me what I have been seeing teaching as: a detail... one of many that make up who I am. Not the sole focus of my life.

  3. Interesting. I am not a fan of the five-paragraph essay, so I almost skipped this, but I enjoy how you used it as a framework to discuss life. And Annie Downs!!! I love her! Have you read her book, "Looking for Lovely"? I loved it! You should try it!

  4. Not a fan of the five paragraph either, but your foray sounds fascinating, Jennifer.

  5. Wow! First of all, I didn't realize you were leaving the classroom! What a big and exciting change! I can't wait to hear more about it. Secondly, I love the idea of writing an identity thesis statement. That would take some thinking! The shift of looking at your career as a detail/support instead of the thesis itself is wonderful. Thanks for a thought-provoking post today! I've never heard of Annie Downs. I need to look her up now.

  6. While I am not a fan of the 5 paragraph essay, I get that the MESSAGE was powerful. I look forwrd to your journey ahead.

  7. Onward.... you have much to discover and embrace. We love our job-- we learn and grow every day with amazing people. We are the lucky!! Can't wait to hear about your journey.

  8. Your piece is so motivating! I am re-working my thesis statement, too, and just didn't know it. Now that I have that "mental structure," I already feel better. I'm going to be putting a big piece of chart paper on my wall and using "boxes & bullets" to make sure I'm in charge of my own re-write. Lovely post -- thank you!

  9. Thank you for sharing that new twist on the essay. It can seem like the role of a teacher can only be played out in a classroom but teachers are everywhere. I am glad you can add to the body of your career.


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