Life of a Fellow: Danielle
Today we welcome back Danielle on the blog as she shares with us about her personal preferred presentation style. Danielle is a Fellow at Penn Treaty and continuously uses her light-hearted nature to cheer up students and staff on a daily basis.
One of the most crucial lessons that I’ve learned through being a 12+ Fellow is to never underestimate the power of being silly. Whenever I’m up at the front of a room, presenting on very specific grammar rules from the SAT, I’m almost always panicking, trying to internally answer questions that haven’t even been asked yet in my head. It’s much more fun and gratifying to just be as dorky as possible and get a reaction, and when you’re talking about subordinating conjunctions and order of operations, any sense of a reaction is a win. Even if students are laughing at me instead of with me, at least they’re paying enough attention to what I’m saying to pick up on how ridiculous my mannerisms can be. Even if they’re scoffing at the corniness and how over the top some of the delivery is, they’re still receiving the content and getting the pertinent information. Even if some students roll their eyes whenever the Jeopardy “Think” music comes on, at least it centers the focus on the practice SAT questions that we’re giving them.
Developing the repertoire of a cheesy Fellow happened almost accidentally because I’m a cheesy dork by nature. This reputation continues to grow as my fellow Penn Treaty 12+ staff and I progressively get wackier and wackier with the students and with each other. From this wackiness, learning and friendships have seemed to flourish. At this point, it’s fun to just run with it and have an irrevocable sense of pride in being corny. Honestly, the SAT is not thrilling. It’s daunting and long, but being able to throw some pizazz and puns in there has gotten students engaged. Additionally, and maybe selfishly, this has made the entire process far less terrifying for me. There’s a lot of pressure surrounding the SAT, and to alleviate some of that pressure associated with preparing for it by presenting it in a more casual and enjoyable way has seemed to have an overall positive impact on sentiments for studying and the SAT in general. Again, never underestimate the profound impact of a smile, even if it’s actually just a pity smile at your awful pun.
The most lovely part of this dynamic is when some of the more outgoing, wacky students give the over-the-top cheesiness right back to you, and it feels like I’m cracking ridiculous, senseless jokes with my friends instead of working. We joke about the Eagles, we joke about agriculture (for reference, this is done in a similar vein to saying “in this economy?”), and conversations with certain students during lunch time are completely comprised of sarcastic sassiness. Each new day at Penn Treaty makes me feel so grateful to have a job where I have the opportunity to work with students who radiate joy and laughter. Even on days where it feels like there are endless workshops to get through and that students are clearly tired, if I throw some silly at them, they’ll perk up and my day instantly gets brighter.
Amazing results can grow from making somebody laugh, even if it’s just a student laughing to another student about how corny a joke was. “Miss, you’re corny” or “Miss, you guys are crazy” are two comments that light up my life instead of breaking me down. It’s been incredible to develop long-standing jokes and bits with students after being a Fellow at Penn Treaty for the last five months. The students of Penn Treaty have so much personality and spark, and it’s been beautiful to experience this in new, merry ways. Standing in front of a room and intentionally making a fool out of yourself is not an easy thing to do, but I’m thankful that we do it anyway. It’s made the hecticness of SAT workshop season be more of an enjoyment than a chore, and it has seemed to do the same for the students each week. If you can add an element of silly to the serious, it makes it all the more enjoyable. If you can make someone laugh, it can make even the most tedious tasks and difficult concepts feel like you’re having fun with your friends.