When The Feelings Catch Up

It is a wonderful thing when colleagues make time to be friends. Enjoyed a great afternoon with two colleagues today after two great classes. Students demonstrated courage and mastery reading aloud their Who Am I? Essays. I had an opportunity as well to get double duty out of yesterday’s teachable moment of dismissing class. It had come to me, after the fact, that the true challenge of Life in the Distracted Lane is about more than unplugging. It’s about the difference between wisdom and intelligence. Everyone in the class has enough native intelligence to master the skills of ENG 098 / Basic Writing. The challenge is to exert the wisdom to apply one’s native intelligence in a timely manner. Perhaps the entire college experience is designed to separate those who do from those who don’t.

Having prayed for and received a way to love my enemy (the oppression that shows up as learned helplessness in many students) as the Message Solo Remix devotional suggested Tuesday, I was able to rearrange my face to match that of a student’s. He’d asked a question about the free-writing topic selected by the day’s Discussant nearly hiding the panic just beneath the surface. The topic was portfolios and apparently it was the first time he’d heard the word, despite the fact that it had been mentioned and appeared several times on the syllabus, website, and assignment schedule. I did not allow disappointment to leak out or my eyes to widen or narrow in shock or disdain. With a tone more even than I could have managed in previous semesters, I answered his questions and returned my attention to the rest of the class as they continued sharing strategies, discoveries or miseries that emerged during their freewriting.

The emotional labor of teaching is the greatest unpaid portion of the job. Though short, by some standards, the nature of the hours we spend make them longer by far than many other professions. It may not be a burning building we enter each period, but increasingly the lives we come in contact with are most often on fire and their occupants are fast asleep inside. Our privilege is to have some recovery time built in to each year. Would that it were so for all workers. Which is why I believe in tenure for if it is a mistake, it is a mistake in the right direction.

The downside of the job, before, during and after the mortar boards have fallen back to earth and tassels are ritually moved from left to right, is that when the feelings we masque in order to get through a conversation, day, semester or decade do catch up there are precious few places to go with them and fewer still who would listen. After all, we do have summers off… don’t we?

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Third Day Back From Spring Break

Monday, I was able to write myself down from the cliff during the initial freewriting period. Three minutes into the class, students were bouncing off the walls. It is said that when you teach 13th grade, this is to be expected. After nearly 20 years of the same after Spring Break behaviour, I appear to be at least equally, if not utterly, ineducable. This is why my schedule was submitted under protest last semester when a return to the 16-week format was mandate.d. Read  StudentSuccesAndTermLength.pdf . Some classes / skills are going to be mastered in fewer than eight weeks, or not this time around. Period.
Today, I made it nearly three-quarters of an hour into the period before saying those fateful words, class dismissed. Something inside me refuses to rise to the occasion each time it seems a bad cop is needed. I don’t believe in robbing adults of the opportunity to define appropriate academic behavior. Perhaps a freewriting on the Community Guidelines will make a useful discussion next week. Lemonade. Fancy that.
Innywho, several students left and some returned. With the few who remained or returned I was able to discuss details of the service learning options and encourage folks to work together to organize all their documents for their draft portfolio submissions next week. Two students apologized for being all over the place before they left class. At least there’s one silver lining: I found a writing competition I can use as my next in-class essay writing prompt for The Semester That Would Not Cry, Uncle. Woohoo! Yes! Magazine comes to the rescue once again!

Light Dawns on Marble Head*

It’s been what, six semesters teaching this course online, and only this afternoon did it dawn on me that I might circumvent some of the preferred illusions about the difficulty of teamwork in virtual environments with an introduction to the team project. Go figure. It was fun finding a quote on revolution from Adrienne Rich to accompany my selection of Liria, the Albanian word for freedom, as the root name for the teams. I had fun connecting the dots and formatting the text size and color, even spell-checking, until I was rudely awakened by the “Extend My Session” prompt. As you may have guessed, that means I lost the unsaved work. The second time around was not nearly as pleasing but I got the job done and left the office before dark.

*Explanation of the very apt blog title is available here.

Spring Break Broken

What a day! First day back to classes and I wanted to dismiss class within three minutes of walking in the door. Writing helped turn things around and some teaching/learning was had by all. One student, chronically unprepared and clueless by decision though she hangs out with a classmate who’s most often than not on top of things, left saying, thanks, that was productive. By grace, wonders never do cease. I wanted to share the stages and contents of the Who Am I narrative here but left office without downloading from the server that hosts classroom items. Twill have to wait until tomorrow.

Pleased that I did hit the pool and run for half an hour despite the fact that I’d left home without many of the bells and whistles I like to take with me. You know, the luxuries like a towel, robe, soap… I did split some listening time with a retired colleague before sharing an anniversary breakfast with my husband. Despite the lateness of the hour and having turned in a full hour later than I’d wanted to last night, I managed to cook breakfast and remember to collect all the pieces of the Streak to return. It does many things well, has many warts but doesn’t do the two things I wanted it for: 1 – to allow me to take and share notes from eBooks; 2 – to allow me to respond or post to our learning management system, Angel. Though it’s been real and nice, it hasn’t been real nice, not enough to justify another monthly bill that is. So, farewell to technological advances, this time. Old school won the toss fair and square.

A Kingdom-minded Lifestyle

At last, (well, the book was published 4 years ago) someone has made the critical link between self-esteem and financial standing. Sure, there are zillions of titles tending in this direction but Dr. Robertson’s comes with biblical authority, proving, among many scriptures, the truth behind …as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Dr. Robertson brought the message at Mountaintop today. Transformative. I look forward to putting these kingdom principles into practice at once!

Twinkies, Poolside

There I was sitting at the pool, eating Twinkies purchased while waiting for a carwash to finish, watching someone in worse shape catch a burn thinking, this is not my beautiful life, when it dawned on me that I could reframe.
If this were a perfect situation, what would I have created this for? What lesson, truth, experience did I intend to learn under these precise conditions?

Last Supper

It’s Friday. And since I don’t count weekends as part of the annual reprieve, Spring Break is officially over. To celebrate, I decided to enjoy something special while slow cooking a pot roast and veggies in the crock pot for tomorrow.

In a dish, combine Romain lettuce, Craisins, goat cheese crumbles, Roma tomato and heated John Soules Food’s Beef Fajitas – flame-broiled, seasoned and sliced. If you don’t have a covered jar for shaking the dressing ingredients together, a teacup and fork will do.

Preserving a 2-1 ratio of 1/2 lemon juice 1/2 aged balsamic vinegar to virgin olive oil, sliver fresh garlic and mash with a fork, vigorously blending the liquids. Add salt to taste and toss over salad fixings. Enjoy. For my vegetarian (apologies to the vegan) friends, Morel mushrooms, make a wonderful substitute (in season) for the beef.