Friday, October 9, 2015

Report on the First Day Back in the Physical Classroom

In yesterday's blog post I wrote about my return to the physical classroom.  Before yesterday, I hadn't taught in a physical classroom, teaching a traditional college class, since 2009.  I'm happy to report that it went well.

Some things haven't changed.  Some of my Facebook friends commented on my energy and enthusiasm in the classroom--yep, those are still there.  I love the hopeful mood of the whole room on the first day of class. 

Some things have changed.  I need my reading glasses to check their schedules to make sure they have cleared holds and are allowed in class.   That's a small change.

Larger changes are more subtle, known only to me.  I'm using my own writing, published writing, to serve as a model.  I'm hopeful that it will help build that ever elusive writing community in the classroom.  I'm not the expert with the red pen.  I'm a writer just like everyone else.

In 2009 I wouldn't have had many essays to choose from.  Now I do.  I'm thinking that I'll use ones that have been published, just in case there might be copyright issues later, as I'm loading them onto school equipment, and I don't want anything to happen that might interfere with my right to use them later.

Yesterday I handed them my essay on Hildegard of Bingen, which was published here at the Living Lutheran site.   I said, "We're going to be learning to write essays by using many different approaches.  Today we're going to try a 19th century approach."  And then I explained how I wanted them to copy the essay, writing by hand on paper.  I expected objections.  There were none, although I did have to ask one student to put his phone away.  I told them that as they copied, to think about the strengths and weaknesses of the essay. 

We did this experiment last.  A peaceful, meditative state descended on the room.  I thought about doing some work on the computer, but I didn't want to ruin the mood with clicking keys.  I realized that I used to read a lot of books as I waited for my students to finish their writing tasks.  I'll start bringing a book with me to class.

It was a wonderful way to spend a morning.  I do realize that it's wonderful in part because I'm only teaching one class.  If I was teaching multiple sections, it might be different.

But I spend much of my day in the office hearing from students with complaints, hearing from people who have discovered issues that must be addressed immediately, hearing all sorts of tales of woe.  It was nice to get out of that environment and back into the classroom.

I'm looking forward to next week.

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