200th Post (Rant #4): A To Do List for the Public School System

Every 50 posts, I take some time to focus on my personal life. I’ve talked about the absurdity of reading levels being assigned to books based on vocabulary, the stereotypes surrounding teenagers, and the assumption by some of peers that A’s are average.

Today I’m going through a list of complaints (ranging from minor to major) about hoops that students have to jump through in the current academic climate. Not all students face all these problems. There is no one person responsible for the problem; there might be no person who can solve some of the issues. But I think it is important to understand the things students face in their day-to-day lives–especially because a lot of them actually have solutions.

(By the way, I don’t hate teachers, or school counselors, or administrators, and I understand that they have hard jobs made nearly impossible by lack of funding and red tape. They are literally saints for showing up every day. I’m just frustrated, is all.)

  1. Please, for the love of God, get working Internet. This one is aimed at the district. I can’t tell you how many times the Internet crashes when a teacher wants to play a Youtube video or look at their ONLINE–district mandated–gradebook. Such a waste of time and something we really should be past by now.slow internet
  2. Please don’t mistake time management for being stupid. A lot of teachers get offended/annoyed when students admit that they put off a project/homework assignment until the last minute (be that last minute 2 am the night the homework was assigned or the night before an essay you had a month to work on is due). Procrastination is never good, but students have a lot on their plates and sometimes one assignment gets pushed into what some people call “the last minute” for the express reason of maintaining sanity. When the distinction between blatant procrastination and real time management is not made, it is super frustrating.procrastinate
  3. Chromebooks/iPads are not the answer. See the “Internet DOES NOT RUN” portion–adding more technology to this mix is doomed. Spend money on good textbooks, Elmo projectors, and better teachers–not iPads. (Look up LAUSD’s fiasco if you aren’t convinced.)
  4. I’d like a grade sheet. A lot of teachers seem to think that by not posting grades or providing grade sheets to students, they are keeping their students from stressing about school. For me (and a lot of the people I talk to) this is only more stressful. (Fear of the unknown and all.)
  5. “Will this be on the test?” is an honest question. Again, time management has to happen. Students can’t learn everything for every test, so knowing what information won’t be on the test is an honest attempt by students to prioritize. (For some–sometimes we just don’t want to study complicated material, sure, but there are honest motives as well.)
    on the test
  6. Grading is a two-way street. My mom is a teacher and I understand that grading is probably the worst and most time-consuming (and unpaid) part of a teacher’s job. But seriously–I wrote an essay, I’d like it to be graded at some point in the next month.
  7. There really is a difference between learning and getting good grades–and a lot of us will skip the former if we can keep the latter. Don’t let us. 
  8. Bonus for my peers: Stop cheating. I hate you. 

I Really Should Be Editing My Novel…

Yeah, I should be editing my novel.

You know what hasn’t happened in the last week and a half? Me, editing my novel.


Editing is boring. And stressful.

A lot like school. Which I’m trying to avoid.

Right now, I’m breaking down my novel into specific scenes and then keeping a detailed account of what happens in every scene of the book in an Excel document. It looks like this so far:

DMC excel screenshot


That’s not all of it. And I’m only a third of a way through the book.

Every box is a specific moment. Usually a lot of them come together to make what a reader would consider a “scene.” They are color coded based on how confident I feel about the plot/writing showcased in that scene, and how much they have to be rewritten. The large column on the left contains my notes for how scenes should be rewritten.

It’s complicated. But that’s what happens when you wrote an entire book without an outline. You pay for it later in the form of extremely boring Excel documents.

This may look like a waste of time, but it isn’t. I’m basically inverting the entire plot of my novel, changing how the romance plays out, making side characters play greater roles, and trying to make my main characters more alive and complex. Just knowing what I wrote the first time is the first step to completely revamping it.

My goal for this summer was to finish editing Devil May Care. That’s not going to happen. I got out of school June 3rd. I go back to school in a month, on August 11th. It’s crazy!

Meanwhile, in my last month of free time, my Speech and Debate club at school is holding practices, I’m supposed to be doing DriversEd online, I’m trying to keep up with this blog, keep up with current events (for Speech and Debate as well as for myself), read tons more books, go to fencing classes, hang out with friends, spend time with my family, sleep and breathe.

Editing is feeling like an impossible task, when vying for time against the rest of those obligations.

I knew it would be hard. And I knew summer would fly by. But this week is the halfway mark (I think, that might have been last week) of my summer vacation.

I feel like I haven’t really accomplished anything. And I know that next year is going to be super hard, with my first AP class and pre-calc on my plate, so editing will be forced to hold even less of my time and attention.

I still have four weeks of my summer. I just have to actually use them.