I read everything posted [by students] on the website that three sections of basic writing students have access to: freewriting on the communal blog, email, Service Notes, submissions (okay, so there was only one assignment submitted. It was a single freewriting session and not the freewriting analysis as an attachment expected). Rather than lose hope, I draft and send emails to All regarding posting freewriting Monday morning and send one section of the class an addendum correcting the chapter assignments due. I send another group of students, those who have yet to logon, a reminder to print and read the syllabus in time for the quiz. Each email is copied to students’ outside email, in case they read those. Some have attended class and so I have phone numbers if I get no reply. Others will be referred to Retention Services at week’s end otherwise. I sign each email with a photo of me, the dogs, and or some inspiring quote.
The longer I spend in the classroom the more I realize it has less to do with me than it has to do with those who show up and thereafter take their learning seriously. This is a hard lesson to learn because one hazard of the jobs of teaching and parenting is the madness required: We must do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. [Each part of this platitude of course, is but the party line and simply what I tell myself and others I believe. It’s too loaded a political posture to go into here or almost anywhere…Stay tuned. It may just be time for me to wade on in.]
On another note, what if more than a few of the students who place into ENG 098 have learning disabilities? What are the implications for how and what I do and for the institution? Will I begin reading Self-Development and College Writing – which will require reading four pages a day for forty days if I want to read something else in the same semester. Might just lure me in to completing my treadmill commitment as well – or will I look for additional resources for teaching writing to students who have learning disabilities diagnosed or merely suspected? We’re all special needs now... Are there layman’s ways (read cheap, non-humiliating, and quick) of diagnosing same? Hmmmm. I am not satisfied that an initial search for strategies for teaching in such a context indicate that I have integrated many of the best practices already. I am not satisfied to learn, so late in life, that I might have been lumped into the ADHD category decades ago had the label existed and had the more (?) immediate consequences of being targeted by competing oppressions not taken priority.
Okay. So I decide to begin reading the text that I have at home after reading a summary of it online. I make this decision because in part, the author is stating what I had taken to be obvious until now – that developmental writing classes require destabilization, psychological and otherwise. Writing this, I realize I am putting my own premise in the author’s mouth. In fact, this is precisely what my committee member was getting at. I have a different take on things and it warrants exploring in public. I am constantly filling the vacuum with what I want this, that or any author to say since time immemorial. And perhaps the reason I have not said as much until now is because either I can’t believe it hasn’t been said or, it has not been time, or else I am colluding with the oppression of institutional silencing that I have committed to combat on my students’ behalf. Might the answer be instead, that this self-imposed (?) gag-order is yet another way of compensating for what has been missing all along…