Archive for the 'Teaching' Category

06
Feb
08

Of dogs and students

Last week was nuts. Just nuts. Between the schedule I was keeping and the snowy weather forcing me to carpool into town the week felt like it absolutely crawled. Tuesday evening came and I was sure – absolutely SURE – that it had to be Thursday. There was no possible way that there could still be 3 whole days left in the week!

Part of what made the week insane was that it was conference week, meeting and talking to students about their works-in-progress. It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of teaching since it gives me the chance to get to know the people in my class as more than just semi-blank faces or words on a page or screen. Not only do we talk about their work but I get to share laughs about rainbow sprinkle-covered hot cocoa, cultural criticism on everything from global warming to vegan eating habits to Rocky Horror Picture show, and to hear stories of life-changing trips overseas or of the challenges of being a first-generation college student. I drink copious amounts of coffee until I could swear that even my hair follicles are jittery and I walk away mentally and emotionally exhausted, but fulfilled and simply thinking – Wow! what a privilege!

By Thursday night, however, after juggling all that my week encompassed I found myself so overwhelmed with human contact that at one point I literally stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed to myself. (Luckily this is Bellingham and odd social behavior isn’t frowned upon as much here as it might be in other places!) So when Friday rolled around and I was able to haul my stuff over to the house where I was doggy-sitting it was such a welcome relief. Skipper, the English Lab I was watching, is probably one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. He’s fun and peppy but incredibly easygoing. For instance, when I decided to laze in bed reading on Sunday morning he climbed up on the pillow next to me, nestled his nose against my neck and flung one limp-pawed arm across my chest. For a few moments he gazed intently at the pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that I was re-reading and I could have sworn he was passing his eyes back and forth across the lines, left to right. Soon though he was snoring and twitching.

A good dose of furry critter was just what I needed. Who could resist this face, after all?

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 And there’s just something about Labrador eyebrows.

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Skipper, I believe, thinks he’s human. And I’m inclined to agree.

More faitfully blogging to follow (I hope).

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05
Feb
08

Why I haven’t blogged…

I’ve been a bad blogger, not keeping up. But perhaps this will explain it until I have enough time to write something of substance:

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18
Jan
08

Who knew?

It always strikes me when little things or comments come together to make me see something in a totally new way, in this case to realize value in a set of experiences that I had not seen before. In Bill’ s Basic Writing course today we were having discussion about what makes one a valuable job candidate to community colleges (since Whatcom has a full-time position open that several of us are going to be applying for, though it is a long shot as we’ll be freshly minted grads). Turns out that my undergrad work with minority lit and Minor in Women’s Studies were great choices. So was attending community college, although that’s not a surprise. Certainly someone who attended a community college is going to have a jump on understanding the way the community functions over someone who went straight to a four-year. But I’m sure my eyebrows nearly jumped off my forehead when Bill said that having a GED would be a plus. A GED? A plus? So I’ve never been ashamed of my GED – far from it, I’ve always thought it was a smart choice for me and just the ability to move on to college was hard won — but an asset? Yup. Just like the community college experience, the minority lit, the women’s studies….it means that I’ve got diversity of some kind under my belt. My experience is one that might say to a selection committe that I have the ability to relate to and understand people whose education experience has been somehow other-than-the norm.

In talking with another professor the other day, she mentioned that perhaps my circutious and independant route toward education that had me nearly entirely self-educated through junior high and high school and earning a GED might account for the way I go about education in general, the way that I approach projects, writing, teaching. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. While I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gotten to where I am, I’ve always thought of it as being despite my earlier experiences. I usually think of it in terms of lack (for instance, the fact that I cannot answer a single question on a grammar quiz correctly. I’m not kidding!). But that those experiences of roughing out my own terrain for learning might have created the framework for my approach to learning, is something I need to ponder more. What use I might make of tracing the origins of my way of approaching the institution and way of learning, I am not sure. But its worth some thinking about.