Monday, November 30, 2009

Hansel and Gretel

As my first semester in Graduate School winds down I find myself eagerly awaiting the end. Sure, I've always looked forward to vacations and such, but somehow I feel like I've been in the wringer more than usual--and I've actually had a pretty light course load.

I suspect my anxiety and anticipation for the end of the semester is closely linked to the two English 101 class I teach ending as well. I figure I've ready around 10 papers from each of my 52 students (5 rough drafts and 5 final drafts), at roughly 4 pages each paper. That comes out to over 2,000 pages of student work graded, edited, feedback given, complimented, etc. Sheesh! No wonder I don't seem to have time for my own school work. Needless to say my anticipation is building--only 3 more class periods and counting.

Although I moan and complain, I actually do enjoy my students--for the most part. I get exasperated and frustrated when I see a paper that has weaknesses, faults, etc., that I know I talked to the student about and suggested they correct/revise, but they didn't. Lazy! I have to constantly remind myself that they're only freshman, away from home for the first time (for the most part), and they're just beginning their college careers. But seriously, can't they take a little time for accountability. I can't count the number of times I've had excuse after excuse for why a paper wasn't turned in on time or why the student didn't come to class. Do they seriously think I'm that gullible? Enough with the rant.

On to the reason for the picture. As I walked to my first class this morning (one that I teach) I was enjoying the crisp fall weather and blue sky above. I'll admit I'm a morning person and I don't mind waking up early for class. So on this first day back from Thanksgiving Break I noticed there was a trail of green beads underfoot on the walkway. They weren't blazing emerald in color or subtle jade, they were glistening green synthetic beads. But only the best plastic! As I followed this adorned path I felt a bit like Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame, as it seemed to lead me directly to the door of the building I begin my day in. Maybe it's a sign that teaching, and school in general, is an adventure and I should enjoy the journey. Then again, maybe it's not, but that's how I'm going to take it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...

As I've embarked on my "teaching career" I've found that you have to take the good with the bad. Play good cop one day and bad cop the next. Encourage a student while ripping them a new one. And hold yourself to the same standards as you do your students. That being said, some of my students took great delight in catching me and "punishing" me with my own rules.

Just like every first day of class, I went over my expectations, the class syllabus, how to access Blackboard, yada, yada, yada. One thing I mentioned was that they weren't to text or have their cell phone ringers turned on or else I would make them get up in front of the class and sing. What's a little public humiliation between friends? To prove how serious I was about the rule, within the first week of school my phone "rang" in each of my classes (I set an alarm, but they don't know that) and the students took glee in making me sing. I was forced to sing "I'm a Little Teapot," with the motions, in both classes. Throughout this whole semester only one student has been forced to sing...and that was the last problem I had from him in this regard.

Don't worry, I'm getting to the point of my story. Unfortunately, just this morning my cell phone went off again. The ONE day I forget to put my ringtone on silence and I happen to get a call during my 8:30 AM class. Whod've guessed? Oh the squeals of glee from my students (hey, this is my posting, so if I said they squealed, they squealed). I tried to nonchalantly pass it off, but they called me out. What was their punishment this time? They told me to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" while standing on a chair and patting my head while I rubbed my stomach. (What evil students!) Of course I have my pride so I said the chair part.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wanna go Half-sies on a Baby?

Did the blog title hook your attention? I hope so because today, in class, I talked about opening and closing paragraphs of a paper and I hit the intro aspect pretty hard. The main thing I talked about was getting the reader's attention. For my example I used personal ads from a newspaper. I put two side-by-side and had the students pick which one got their interest the most. Was it the one whose first line was "SWM, 56, 6'9", 159lbs, w/mustache..." or was it the one that said "IF SHALLOW LUST IS WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR ANSWER THE AD ABOVE,..." They, of course, picked the "lust" one and then I had them pretend everyone in the world is single so they could write the ad for anyone. Obama got an ad written about him, as did Will Smith, some cougar-ish 68 year old woman looking for an 18-35  year old to help her spend her money, and some guy who's "hook" is the title of this blog. I can honestly say when the student shared his hook I gaffawed a huge laugh.

It was a good day in class. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

New outlook, New purpose

So I've decided I've kind of been missing the point of this blogging thing. Sure I use it as a tool to let my family and friends know what's going on with me, but what about what's making my laugh, roll my eyes, cringe, gnash my teeth, and generally pique my interest? So instead of seeing my blog as a "chore" I'm trying to view it as an opportunity. I'm an english major, so why does the idea of writing make me sigh? Hmmmm....

In that light, I've been constantly reaffirmed this week. I've gotten positive feedback both from my advisor and students I teach that I'm not completely sucking at this "teaching" thing. This week I've had students asking me what time I'm teaching next semester and what class I'm teaching because they want to, if possible, take another class from me. Yeah! I'm not horrible! Unfortunately for them (insert cackle here) I'm actually teaching the exact same class next semester as I am now--so if I get repeat, can I trade them with another teacher for a different one (kinda fantasy football league-ish)? Because obviously they/I didn't do something right the first time.