Thursday, January 15, 2015

Notes on teaching: the first week.

The first week--exhausting. Also? a little bit of a thrill ride.

I can get away with an incomplete schedule--the day to day--because this is a face to face class. I said this to myself on Sunday, when one class, my online class, was mostly finished, but the other, the face to face, was not quite mostly finished.

If I have three weeks ready to go? I can start with that.

(Online, though? No. An incomplete schedule is just courting disaster.)

If, however, you are teaching face to face, you have the luxury of advancing your partially-made weekly schedule as if it were a  not-quite-hypothesis--a teaching hunch, one that requires more information to fully flesh out before it can become itself: a fully articulated question, the answer to which can only be obtained by the procedure of the whole class being taught.

And thus it was that I found myself today in my office, engaged in the slow, patient work of imagining how the projects I'm asking them to do might connect with the readings I've found (and the ones I have still to find), how the readings might connect with the poems they write, how their sensibilities might intersect with the sensibilities of the writers I'm assembling, one by one, for them to meet and converse with.

I've been thinking about how writing--composing--can, for me, edge into a flow state in which I lose track of time and get entirely absorbed in the problems and the pleasures of the task. Is it possible to teach that? Do my students in any writing course find themselves in it? In a required composition course, for instance? Can I teach them to recognize it and to let themselves go with it, if they verge on it? Can this be coached or taught?

Today, I found myself in my office, the door almost closed, the light coming in from the east. It was late morning, and I was entirely absorbed in the problems and pleasures of the task: assembling a teaching schedule, losing track of time, creating what I hope will be apt sequences and intelligible leaps, the premises of which will unfold over time and be achieved both in the process and in the arrival.

And then, I went to class.

1 comment:

Amelia said...

Thinking in an office with light coming in must be a truly great perk of your job.


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