When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else -- Joseph Campbell.

Teaching Update

I marvel at people, who despite having absolutely no time to spare, can still find time to keep writing, ruminating and posting their thoughts everywhere between blogs, computer screens and maybe even scribble a word or two. When the semester began, I had grandiose dreams of sitting down at my computer at the end of every week and updating the world on my discoveries as a novice teacher. Hah! I say to myself. Such naiveté. Apparently, I’m in denial about the fact that I need sleep and that I can’t function without it. Another trait I envy in others. But I’ll trade a state of wordlessness for a few more years of kicking and screaming so I can go out with a bang.

The teaching/shadowing is going really well. Stepping into a classroom is like crossing the threshold into a parallel universe. The students are creative, bursting with energy, and despite all outward appearances, honestly eager to learn. This just might be my own misconception, but I think I can manage to live with rose colored glasses for a while. We’ve spent a significant portion of the semester trying to instill a penchant for detailed writing. The class began with the token “Who am I?” paper, and surprisingly, the details were few and far between. I would think that 18-somethings would offer up their lives much more willingly than adults would. Not so much. Getting them to write with more details is like pulling teeth.

Gender differences are emerging strongly as well. The girls notice details and the boys notice objects. Slight observation when we passed around glossy advertisements and asked them to describe what they saw. From the women, I heard about colors, composition, theme, message and even audience. From the men, I heard about readily noticeable objects and functionality. When they were asked to bring in advertisements to class, they picked decidedly masculine themes – cars, sports, guns and game hunting. Hmm. As a copy editor at a campus newspaper, I’ve trained myself to not ascribe to sweeping generalizations, but I can see how they take root. Even so, my guess is that not treating every student the same way is no less than a learned art.

Speaking of audiences, the concept of writing catered to an audience is beginning to take root, but it’s a good bit of an uphill struggle. I think nearly ever student who was asked to imagine the audience wrote down “anyone willing to read about me.”

However, the most challenging hurdle I see myself jumping over is enforcing decorum and getting a grip on classroom management. I don’t see myself being militant, but gaining and keeping control of my classroom seems to be one of the major factors in getting the students to focus. Also, I have to keep biting my tongue to stop myself from calling the students “kids.” I think it’s because it hasn’t been that long since I’ve graduated and I remember how condescending being called a “kid” would sound coming from one of the professors. So far so good – I think I’m a little closer to finding home again. Hmmm…


Ed Reif said...

Nice writing--Good post