Olivia Griffin

'Twas the Night Before Student Teaching

Tomorrow is my first day of student teaching at Jones College Prep .  I cannot believe that this moment that I have spent over three years preparing for is already here.  It is exciting, but it is also slightly terrifying. 

Still, I know that DePaul has prepared me well.  I have spent the past two years observing in high school English classrooms throughout CPS.  I have spent the past three years reading and writing my own teaching philosophy.  And I have spent most of my life brushing up on my knowledge of American and British Literature, the writing process, and the nuances of grammatical structure.  I am ready.   

But am I?  It is crazy to think that last week I wrapped up my last set of classes as a full-time student (don’t get me wrong, I am still working on those finals, but still!).  How can I be finished with classes when I feel that there is still so much for me to learn!  Luckily, I will spend the rest of my life in a classroom learning from my students as much as I hope that they learn from me.        

I am excited for the opportunity to put my skills to the practical test and begin my transition into adult life.  I know that these 11 weeks will certainly fly by and that I will be sitting in Wintrust Arena with cap and gown on before I know it.  I am going to try and just take it day by day and I will be bringing you along with me.  So be prepared to enter the whirlwind that is the teacher lifestyle—it won’t disappoint!   


Let's Talk Resumes

The resume, a critical document that presents concise information about who we are as workers, is one page of writing that people spend years building and perfecting. Resumes can vary so much depending on the person, their major, and the position that they are seeking. They can range in design and organization and more obviously in their specific content details.

But they all have the same purpose: to convince employers to hire the candidate by capturing their attention and urging them to continue reading his or her resume when they could be spending their time reading someone else’s. The structural features that are expected and essential to every resume allow those reading it to better understand the person who wrote it. Resumes are broken down into specific sections, given labels, and identified by unique formatting patterns.

As a senior this year, I have spent an absurd time thinking about resumes and obsessing over tweaking my own.  But luckily, I am not alone in this extremely overwhelming endeavor!  I not only have my peers to bounce ideas and formatting questions off of, but I also have the University Center for Writing-based Learning and the Career Center where I can make appointments to talk specifics.

As I have written about before, the University Center for Writing-based Learning ​offers a variety of appointment types, which can be helpful when you are trying to schedule time out of your busy life.  All tutors maintain their own updated resume, are equipped with assisting with specific word choice and basic formatting, and can always help catch those stubborn little grammatical errors.

If you are looking for more specific assistance within your major, the Career Center is a great option!  They have someone on staff who is knowledgeable on each major and they are always happy to help you streamline your resume for the exact job you are looking for.  The Career Center also has really helpful online resources to help you with formatting and using strong action verbs that are sure to get you hired!

Finally, I recommend two things to ease your resume stress:

1.      Drafting early and revising often.  Even if you aren’t ready to enter the workforce yet, keeping your experience updated makes things a lot easier when you are. 

2.      Make the appointments when you have the time and take others’ feedback into consideration.  Responsibilities will sneak up on you faster than you think and your desired employer should not be the first one seeing your resume!


DePaul Neighborhood Spotlight: Monograms on Webster

As we all know, Chicago is not a “college town.”  Choosing DePaul gives you a different experience than those who attend a state school.  But that does not mean that we don’t have our own neighborhood treasures.  The Lincoln Park campus is just a few blocks away from Armitage, a street known for its cute boutiques, restaurants, and shops.  But even closer is Webster Ave, another street packed with hidden gems.  One of the gems, where I happen to be sitting right now as I type this blog, is Monograms on Webster.

Monograms on Webster custom embroider almost anything you can imagine!  We sell everything from blankets, to cutting boards, to piggy banks, to PJs.  And if we don’t have just what you are looking for, you can bring something in and we can customize that too.  Before working here, I wasn’t aware that this place existed and I hear the same thing from many of our first-time customers who just happen to walk by.  But it is simply the best place to pick out a personalized gift for anyone on your list. 

If the creativity and cuteness of Pinterest came to life, it would look a lot like Monograms on Webster.  And that is why it’s such a great place to work.  Unlike most retail places, Monograms on Webster is a personal shopping experience.  You not only get to pick out your gift, but you also can embroider the receiver’s name or monogram on it in almost any font or color imaginable.  And I get to help with all of this!  Deciding which options to go with is imaginative and fun and seeing the faces of the customers picking up their finished, embroidered gifts is my absolute favorite. 

I can go on and on describing what it’s like here, but why not come see for yourself!?  Monograms on Webster is located at 1210 W. Webster, right next to Sweet Mandy B’s​—a delicious bakery I am SURE you’ve heard about.  See you soon!    


Common Freshmen Questions

Q: What’s the quarter system like?

A: The quarter system is fast, but I love it!  It gives you a chance to take way more classes and if you don’t like a class very much, it is over in just ten weeks.  But it can be difficult because midterms and finals definitely sneak up on you. As long as you are organized and proactive in completing your reading and assignments, you will do great!

Q: How do you stay on top of your academics?

A: Break up large assignments into smaller tasks, so you don’t feel totally overwhelmed.  Force yourself to write drafts of essays before they are actually due.  Ex. Midterm Paper is due in two weeks, but MY first draft is due in one week.  Reward yourself!  Ex. If I finish this chapter, I will watch a 20-minute show on Netflix (but don’t forget to return to your work!!)

Q: What are professors like?  How are they different from teachers in high school?

A: Professors, in my experience, are always eager to help!  But they won’t necessarily check in with you as often as high school teachers might. I recommend looking at the syllabus to see if they have listed specific office hours, so you can meet with them individually.  Be proactive and seek help and professors will respect that you are trying to succeed.

Q: What happens if you are absent?

A: If you are sick and cannot make it to class, email your teacher.  It is best to stay in good communication to show that you care and want to be on top of your schoolwork.  Additionally, try and get a doctor’s note.  You should bring your doctor’s note to Dean of Students so that you can get an excused absence.

Q: How do you meet people?

A: You can meet people in so many different ways: get involved with a club, go to DePaul sponsored events (DePaul Activities Board​ has tons of many events), try out group fitness classes at the Ray Meyer Center​, attend DePaul sporting events, talk to people in your classes, hangout in the common areas of your dorm, eat at the Student Center, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Q: What’s the best part about DePaul?

A: The best part about DePaul is being in the middle of the best city in the United States! There is always something fun to do and with your Ventra pass included in the price of tuition, there’s no excuse not to explore the city.


What is the UCWbL?

I have worked at the UCWbL for a little over a year now and this experience has greatly impacted my time as a DePaul student.  As a tutor, I have worked with students to brainstorm topics before they have even begun to write.  I have spoken with international students in comparing Chicago to their own cities, while simultaneously helping them to grow their English vocabulary.  I have even assisted students in organizing and designing their online portfolios through Digication. 

Many students do not realize all that the UCWbL offers and more students should really take advantage of our diverse services.  Some may think that they don’t have time to make an appointment, but with five different kinds of appointments, there is something for everyone: 

1. Conversation Partner: English Language Learning (ELL) students practice their vocabulary, grammar, and overall conversation skills in-person. 

2. Face-to-Face: Students collaborate in-person with their tutor during any stage of the writing or project process.

3. Online Real-time: Students meet and collaborate remotely with their tutor over video and live text chat.

4. Screencast Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides audio and visual commentary via a 10-15 minute video clip. 

5. Written Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides written marginal comments and a detailed summary note.

Note: Appointment options 1-3 require students be present during the actual appointment time, whereas options 4 and 5 do not.  Rather, in these options the tutor works independently on writers’ submissions and they receive feedback after the appointment is over.

The benefits of making an appointment at the UCWbL are countless, but I will leave you with a few:

1. Second Opinion: It is always great to receive feedback and you as the writer get to decide what the tutor focuses on.  Whether you need to be reassured that your thesis is strong, double check your APA citations, or brush up on your grammar, having a second pair of eyes can’t hurt!

2. Minimizes Procrastination: Making an appointment allows you to set deadlines for yourself.  Whether you are brainstorming with a tutor or receiving feedback on a draft, with an appointment at the UCWbL you are not leaving your assignment until the last minute.

3. Possible Extra Credit: Some professors offer extra credit if you take the time to make an appointment at the UCWbL.  Be sure to ask if you are on the hunt for an extra point or two!


(Re)Discovering Chicago

 This year, as a senior, I experienced my first Immersion Week.  For those of you who don’t know, Immersion Week is a unique DePaul opportunity that allows you to meet with the class of your choice every day from 9am-5pm and embrace one of DePaul’s many catchphrases: The City Is Our Classroom. 

Most people enjoy this adventure during their first quarter at DePaul, as freshmen.  This allows them to get the hang of the public transit system, explore the city’s neighborhoods, discover the hidden gems of Chicago, and of course bond with fellow first-years.

As a first-year student just a few short years ago, I had chosen not to arrive at DePaul a week early to participate in Immersion Week and thus opted for my Explore Chicago Dancing class.  I remember moving into my dorm room in University Hall and feeling behind.  Many of my fellow floormates already knew each other and the city better than I did due to the intensive Immersion Week that I had shied away from. 

With that being said, I am delighted that I finally amended one of my biggest first-year regrets as a senior, checking Immersion Week off my DePaul bucket list! I participated in our class Discover Chicago’s Printed Works Past and Present as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM). As a CQM, I led discussions regarding campus resources, adjusting to newfound college independence, and academic success.

Before I go, I will leave you with my Immersion Week highlights:

  1. Speaking with Streetwise, an organization that allows those suffering from homelessness make an honest living by selling their magazine and providing necessary resources to help them get back on their feet
  2. Personally connecting with first-year students by reflecting on my own DePaul experiences
  3. Visiting Open Books, a used bookstore located in the West Loop that promotes children’s literacy by working with Chicago students through various in-house programs
  4. Typing on a typewriter, or at least trying to, at The American Writers Museum
  5. Bonding with our staff professional Justine and our professor, Prof. Easley over delicious Chicago meals

I totally recommend checking out Open Books and The American Writers Museum to experience their greatness for yourself. But until then, you’ll have to just take my word for it!

 

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