Archive for July, 2011

Rethinking 358

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Truth be told, I’m very bad at doing the same thing twice. I feel that anything and everything can be improved and made better. So when I met a colleague to discuss English 358, I brought with me criticism and some thoughts on new assignments to teach. One assignment we discussed in great detail was the Forum Analysis assignment.

I should give you some background. I had never had a forum analysis assignment, much less knew what it was, until I started my PhD program. My MA in literature program never spoke much of academic journals. I think it was a great program and I enjoyed my time there, but I really wish we had talked more about academic journals and writing for that type of audience in the Bibliography and Research class I had taken in my MA program. So when I was introduced to the idea of reading and essentially analyzing academic journals in a field I was interested in, I thought that was pretty cool and a useful idea for not only graduate students (though especially graduate students) but upper level undergraduate students as well. And I confess I played with the idea of teaching this when I first started planning for 358. Ultimately, I chose the book review assignment instead because at the time it made sense according to the class set up.

But after teaching the Book review assignment, and seeing the meh reactions to it and then even worse reading some meh book reviews, I decided it probably needed to be a. improved or b. scraped. This summer I actually did make some improvements to the book review in hopes that would improve it, and perhaps it will. But after talking with the colleague I met with, and thinking more about what students expect (or want) from 358 and the goals and objectives of the course, I think the Forum Analysis is the right way to go.

For example, the Forum Analysis will ask students to “enter the conversation” of their field, which I think is a highly important idea for the humanities crowd and the social scientists as well. The assignment will also require them to read recent scholarship in their field and discover ideas they may not be aware of or may not be well versed in. The assignment may also lead them to think of a strong topic for their final paper in the course, a topic they could potentially turn into a senior thesis, or something similar. They would also be aware of major journals in their field. They would possibly discover theories or theorists they admire or were unaware of before. Perhaps that last one is asking for a bit, but I still think anything is possible. I’m an optimist at heart, still. 😉

I also changed the novel they are reading, which is something I will do each semester. I also added a textbook for the course and will also change that to the newer edition for a future semester. I am pretty excited about all of this. I think the class I have drafted out thus far looks great and am anxious to start teaching it. Summer has been long, but nice.


How one introvert copes in the extroverted society

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Being a teacher, I feel like I am in constant contact with other humans. It is almost like I can’t get away from them. And in reality, I love people. Teaching is definitely a stage where I feel like I can come alive in a sense. It is a place where I can talk about things I know a lot about, be creative, listen and be a little empathetic, envision and plan for things to come (this is one of the reasons why I actually enjoy writing a syllabus—I love envisioning a future and how to plan for it), and involve myself in a little acting. But as an introvert, teaching is also exhausting. After my back-to-back classes followed by office hours, I usually feel exhausted and need time to recharge alone. This is why I prefer to have my own classes on opposite days that I teach. (This hasn’t really worked out though until this coming semester). So yeah, I am a pretty big introvert. I once even tested 99% introverted on the Meyer’s Briggs test. This introverted thing about me is no joke and it is partially why I can’t and won’t shut up about it.

But I’ve learned through simple experience how to survive as an introvert in a very extroverted world where many people want my attention (students and friends) and don’t always realize that I need to have more downtime than they may need to have. I’ve also noticed that sometimes my friends misunderstand my behavior and think me as being rude or weird. Though I may be a little weird, or off, I am certainly not trying to be rude. When I am alone is one of the times where I am at my happiest. So here are some things I do that I feel are often misunderstood or misread and if I seem a little irritated it is because I probably am. It has been a long summer for this girl.

  1. I don’t invite people over often. My friend David once commented about how I never invited him over, and I explained to him that my home is the one place where I know I can truly be alone without interruption. My home is definitely my source of peace away from anyone else. If I want to hang out with people, I also prefer to either go to someone else’s house or meet at a public place, like a bar or a restaurant. I would rather do that than have people come over to my place and potentially stay longer than I would like them to. (I hate kicking people out because I feel like I am being rude, but perhaps sometimes I should just tell people to go the hell home.) Bottom line is that I am not interested in people coming over unless I know they won’t stay for what I consider is too long. (For instance, my friend Anthony will come over for a couple beers after work sometimes, but I know he has children to pick up from daycare and he won’t stay long. Plus, he’s Anthony. We definitely have an understanding.) I will also admit to being territorial, which is an introverted trait, so that also explains why I hate people coming over and hanging around my home.
  2. I get up earlier than I need to. I need downtime before I go out into the world and for me this is usually consists of having two hours before I have to walk out the door. I am not the kind of person who can jump out of bed, get ready, and run out the door to get to work or to class. Doing this throws me completely off for the rest of the day. I need time alone just to get ready for my busy day ahead.  This is partly a reason why I hate staying up late, too.
  3. I plan alone time every day. When I first wrote this, I didn’t want to say plan, but I realize now that I do plan to be alone at certain times during a day. Usually this is in the early mornings and late evenings. This is partly why if a friend invites me out to watch a movie late at night, I don’t accept the offer. Late nights are usually my time to recharge from the day and be alone.
  4. I go to public places by myself. Face it—most people get their coffee at a coffee shop to go. I’ll go to the coffee shop to drink coffee and read or work on an essay or other project. I don’t seek out companionship when I do this. It is typically just time for me to work without interruption. And oftentimes I will try to go to a quiet corner where I won’t be immediately noticed if someone I do know comes by. I even enjoy going to movies by myself. There is nothing weird about any of this. I enjoy being around people, but I do not always want to talk with them.
  5. If I invite you over to my house or invite you out somewhere, do not bring your friends or even suggest it. I usually shoot this down anyway or I feel obligated to say, ok, even if I am not excited about it. If I wanted to hang out with your friends or if I wished you to bring a guest when we hang out, I would probably say something about that. It is also important to note that just because you are friends with someone doesn’t mean I will want to be friends with them.
  6. If I am not talking much, I am still probably having a good time. When I am not talking, it simply means I feel I do not have anything to contribute. I only speak when I know I have something worthwhile to say. I hate small talk and I hate talking just to fill up silence because I don’t see a point to these sorts of discussions or comments. So I just won’t say anything. And if I am not saying anything, please don’t prod me to say something. I still won’t give you much reaction anyway. (And don’t think if I don’t say much to your question or comment, that I am angry. You will know when I’m angry. Trust me.)

Also, if you don’t hear from me for a period of time, I probably am not dead, or let’s hope I’m not dead. I probably just want to be left alone.