Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.25.2019

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep. Nothing new. It takes a while for my brain to calm down enough to realize, ‘hey, it’s sleepy time now’. I was laying there trying to figure out why I keep clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. Yes, I’m under stress right now, but I’ve been under more stress in the past, and I never clenched my jaw to the point my molars are begging me to stop! I love my classes I’m taking; I love the class I’m teaching. Why do I have I had this perpetual tense feeling?

So, I did a bit self-reflection because 1:00 am is the perfect time for it; and I kind of had an epiphany.

I spent more than a decade in a highly adversarial environment. Being a bankruptcy attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan is no walk in the park. It’s an immeasurable amount of stress on a daily basis.

From there, I became a college instructor. So much less stress every day, but where I was teaching had an adversarial vibe. There was not much in the way of collaboration (it was virtually non-existent), and there was a divide between full-timers and adjuncts. I think a lot of people liked to pretend it wasn’t there, but it was. So, even though there was less stress, there was still a fair amount of tension.

Then, I started this PhD program, and it’s all about collaboration, and let’s help each other through this, and professors who say they see me as a colleague. And this is so amazing! So again, why am I so bloody tense all the time?!?!

What I figured out is that I’ve put up a deflector shield. And this deflector shield is trying to protect me from potential adversary. I know people aren’t trying to trick me into believing they’ll help only to have them say “Sike! Fooled you!” but, I still feel this need to be on guard.

Now that I know this is an issue, the goal will be to try to lower that shield and no longer be on Red Alert.

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.24.2019

I’ve realized today that when I finish attending a class, I’m all geeked up about what was discussed or covered. Then when I get back to my office, I only want to work on that stuff!

Today was a workshop with James Schirmer (who was teaching a first-year writing course when the Flint water crisis broke). I already had ideas for how to incorporate the Common Read (What the Eyes Don’t See) into the curriculum, and I have even more now. So, all I want to do is work on the assignments and activities for my WRIT 1110 course, but I have so much other stuff I need to do first. This does not help with my procrastination!

Dean Winchester saying awesome sarcastically
The struggle to find balance continues…

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.18.2019

This seemed like a more laid-back week. Peer review and conferences with my students. Less reading for my own classes for next week. I was even able to get to the gym today and run 6.2 miles! Dare I tempt fate and say that I feel like I found a balance this week?

I might be pushing it with that. After all, I still have a lot to do. Those WRIT Journal submissions aren’t going to review themselves. But overall, I didn’t feel as stressed this week as the first few weeks. Conferences went well with my students. I also had them do an anonymous survey. Most of them hated writing at the beginning of the semester. The consensus on the survey is that they are liking my class, and writing may not be so bad after all. Many of them are so happy to not have to write in the 5 paragraph model anymore. I’m so happy to not have to grade it! Most of them said they wanted to play it safe with the first project and just write it as an essay. I get that. They want to get their feet wet first before jumping straight in to a new way of writing. But, a few were excited to explore new ways of writing. One wrote a song, one is doing Instagram posts, another is making a video. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the semester to see how many of the others will start to branch out.

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.13.2019

What is even happening at this point? My mind is a whirlwind of trying to make the rest of the schedule for my class and trying to keep up with my own work. This is basically me right now. I can’t even think of anything constructive to say.

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.05.2019

Ok. Settling in. I introduced the first project in my composition class. A literacy narrative. I was very excited to tell them that they did not have to write this project in that awful 5 paragraph essay kind of way. I gave them examples of all the different ways they could tell their literacy story. I fear they may have been overwhelmed by this because many of them are still choosing to write it as an essay, instead of making a video or a series of Instagram pictures. This is fine, of course. I can understand they will want to stick with what they know.

They responded well to building their own rubric for this first project. They were pretty quiet up until that point, though, which is always a worry. Are they getting it? Is this stuff sinking in? Are they just tired because class is at the butt crack of dawn?

I had them “grade” the sample literacy narratives using the rubric they came up with, and they ripped those things apart! I heard things like “this isn’t organized very well” and “she spelled some words wrong; we should take points off for that.” I’m still floored that they wanted spelling weighted so heavily on their own projects. Next week, they learn how to peer review each other’s work. I don’t think they’ll be so brutal with each other, though. It’s so much easier to rip someone’s writing to shreds when that person isn’t going to be sitting next to you for the next 12 weeks.  

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 08.30.2019

This has all happened before.
And this will all happen again.
-Caprica Six, Battlestar Gallactica

AHHHHHHH!!!! What a crazy week! My first week of trying to balance teaching a composition class AND taking my own classes in my PhD program. I think my composition class went well. I was able to do a lot more community building than in the past which was nice. Fingers crossed that it means my students will be more comfortable to speak up in class this semester.