Jeff Goins is perhaps the most quotable and readable writer in the blogosphere and beyond today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed receiving his newsletters and been blessed by the tips on writing I’ve shared with students during the past year since I began reading his work. I read Wrecked when he first launched it during my weeks of going green, while commuting to work on the bus last summer. Then, I took up the gauntlet and got the intended thunk to the back of the head from his You Are A Writer, So Start Acting Like One. It’s provocative to the point of borderline cantankerous and I can’t tell you just what good company he makes! Go read him for yourself. Just be sure to pay attention. Goins doesn’t waste a word.
We don’t notice evolution, because it happens slowly over time. The same is true for how “quickly” our kids grow, how we achieve goals, and how we master our life’s work.
Since December I’ve been writing daily at 750words.com. Occasionally, I’ve posted to my sabbatical blog elsewhere on wordpress. Four face to face meetings & three eight-week summer classes are all that stand between me and endless pages of reading for the sheer joy of it. (But who’s counting?) Instead of ending with a whimper I thought we should go out with a bang and so the final exam for Migrant Literature today was delivered as a contest patterned loosely on the game Red Rover. Had there been enough time for two rounds, I’d intended to divide the class into Native-born and Immigrant teams. As it was we divided into Men and Women and two women served as judges as there were two more women than men. Instead of ‘breaking through’ the facing team’s line, teams chose a question about literary criticism or vocabulary from those submitted earlier in the week to the online discussion board. One member had to respond to the question in a complete sentence. If they did so correctly one point was won for their team. If they lost they joined the other team.
5 rules of teamwork
At the end of class but before the student serving as Rescuer gave a quick overview of how to build ePortfolios using weebly
we listed things each team did well, things they could have done differently, and things that can be learned from collaborative test taking.
Among the things learned were:
How to frame a question
How to answer succinctly but completely
How to support and encourage one another
How to study and prepare
I’ve had a great time recalling our time at the workshop and putting into practice the techniques you shared. Stoplight breath practice has been replaced by hand signing (No, really. I’m taking an ASL class). But I frequently use ‘found time’ to return to breath and center myself and check in to release tension in my body.
Thought you might like to know that I did start my class in darkness with only the sound of my voice for students on Day 1 of the semester. It’s made a qualitative shift not only in the way I experience teaching but in the community of scholars in the classroom. Students definitely seem more relaxed, connected and attentive. Thank you for making that possible.
Here are the things I put in the survey CAPE sent out:
6. What did you learn in this CAPE session that is most important/valuable to you?
It was the fruitage from the practice more than learning something particular that has already proven valuable to me. An idea surfaced during one of our quiet times that I wrote down and implemented in my first class of the new semester. It made a qualitative difference in the way teaching and learning happens in my 20 year career.
7. How do you plan to use the information you obtained in this session?
I remind myself to breathe from time to time and intend to make and share the practice widely by integrating more formal (with breath) and informal (with time to write / reflect)’breathing spaces’ into each of my classes and days.
8. Please provide any additional feedback:
This was one of the best CAPE sessions I have ever attended. Thank you for remembering that those who “take care” of others (aka serve or teach in the public eye) need time and reminders to take care of ourselves. Everyone benefits!
Why should it take so long to find one’s preferred learning style? How many years does it take to earn a doctorate? Why is it only now, taking an American Sign Language class taught in a voice-free zone, that I understand that voiced environments have been just about too much for me for just about as long as I can remember. The professor, a colleague, hands out a page with facial expressions we are to master during the course of the next several weeks and learn to use them when signing corresponding words and ideas. It is all I can do to restrain the cascade of tears that threaten as I glance at things I would barely know how to feel, let alone express. Extreme? Perhaps. But someone out there understands in her bones what I am writing about. I know that I am not the only one on Planet Earth who has lived with low-grade panic for so long that “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is no longer even an understatement. I felt a modicum of relief when someone or circumstance, some decade or more ago now, provided me with the ‘hyper-vigilance‘ frame. But, absent a way to redirect one’s chronic thought patterns, or an understanding or diagnosis for the accompanying disorders, one remains trapped, as it were in her own living nightmare.
Chicken or Egg? I don’t know. All I know is today, for the first time in 20 years of teaching (and, by the way, as a direct result of a thought that had room to rise during a meditation workshop at this semester’s convocation) I began my class in a darkness punctuated only by the sound of my voice reading something to my students that mattered to me. Light filtered in from the muted projection screen and a shaded window high in the wall behind which was an overcast desert sky. All of that is to say, that today, 20 years into teaching and counting, was the first day I started class within MY comfort zone.
Asked to complete a survey about yet another textbook instructors are expected to force-feed students, I opt here to post my response to the question asking which text I would prefer to use. Many were the times during winter break that I thought to return to this blog and yet resisted the urge. Preparing for my sabbatical blog, I dip my digits back into the blogosphere with this entry.
Writing About World Literature by Karen Gocsik is preferred (if likely, in surveyors’ opinions, to be comparing apples and oranges) for the following reasons. 1 – Content available digitally in the public domain is sufficient for an eight-week course. 2 – Students, given the opportunity / expectation to produce Background Research, are able to provide rich context while polishing their own critical and creative thinking skills. 3 – Gocsik gets to the point elegantly in just about the fewest words imaginable.
Even as I pray for Israel’s place in history with biblical certainty that prophecy will be fulfilled, I pray that Palestinians will no longer be targets of genocide and the cycle of oppressed becoming oppressors will end. http://shafiqah1.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/inheriting-the-wind-department/
May grace and mercy encircle you.
So last week I left off grading Morning Pages process papers midway through and decided to finish them first thing this morning. In an attempt to subdue the Kitty with Laser that resides upstairs, I determine to note distractions, instead of pursuing them, using Peabrain. I send myself no fewer than four SMS between 9:32 and ten minutes later when I can resist distractions no more and begin this blogpost. It’s the last straw that always sends me blogging. Too many things inspire. Too many things connect, in my head anyway, to resist stirring whatever pot seems available. Writing always has been my response. Kitty and I wonder if it always will be my drug of choice or if there are other, more interesting and creative ways of staying alive, faking sane.
The texts2self include a title to research and write whether it exists already or not; a note to call cousin about our twin iPads’ first coos; and two messages about an article I’d like to write and submit to the Chronicle about a student-managed writing practice that makes my life at this point in the semester not just possible, but pleasurable, perhaps even satisfying. Back to reading. But first, a call to HR! My peabrain vibrated. Um, I mean a reminder just appeared on my phone…