Looking back on the first week of the four week writing course

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Oh my gosh, you all.

So, when I first started planning this class, I was excited because now I can finally really focus on what is important to learn and emphasize those things in a four week class. I was having a blast. And I imagined most of these students would be motivated, dedicated, and maybe even a little interested.

Wow, Jessica, what beautiful fantasies you have.

For the most part, I still like the quick pace. The thing I still find strange, though not difficult, is basically teaching a week’s worth of material in one class period. But I like how this makes me focus more on what is important in the information and the activities. This also makes me grateful that I write such detailed agendas. This way, students can easily review notes from that day.

One thing I don’t like is how some students are simply taking this class because they aren’t good writers and this way they only have to “work on their writing” for four weeks. I feel frustrated by this because they could learn so much more in a regular semester long class, which I happened to tell one student. The student responded with something about his/her plan of study and wanting an “easier” fall semester. OK. But you still need to know how to write and while even a regular semester length course cannot solve every writing problem, it can force you to write more and work more on your writing for a longer period of time. But therein lies the rub, I guess.

All the same, I get where these students are coming from. For example, I am awful at math. Math is something akin to a foreign language to me, and one that isn’t Spanish, so maybe Greek or Latin. I look at Algebra and I have no idea. I read a story problem and the ideas get jumbled in my mind. I think, the train goes how fast for how long? What? When we were working on budgets in grant and proposal class, I had to take close and careful notes. I had to review them to make sure my math was right. When I calculate grades, I review my math at least 3 times to make sure I did it all right. So if this were a four week math course, yeah. I can see what these students are thinking. But, of course, that doesn’t make it any easier for anyone. As a teacher I know this. As a student who did this herself, I know this.

But most of the students in the class can take this without so much as a pit stop. They are in this four week class because they are accelerated learners themselves, which makes them quite a lot of fun to teach and to have class discussions with. Most are smart and not overbearing about it, and if you are a teacher, you completely know what I mean by that. If you are not a teacher, what I mean is that often the really, super smart kids are the ones who get a little uppity from time to time. They will point this out to peers or to you as the teacher, just to show off. They hold their intellect over you as the teacher and the entire class like a sword lunging at you and you keep bracing for it. But I haven’t noticed this yet. Everyone has been pretty cool.

So far, the class has been fun, if not incredibly busy and at times exhausting. I am at the office by eight, in the classroom by nine, but I “get done” so early. But then of course there is more lesson planning and grading and responding to emails. (Oh emails, the song that never ends.) I always just hope I remember my coffee in the morning before I leave my apartment. When time moves this fast, it really is the little things that make all the difference.

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