The First Two Classes

I’m finding myself doing a whole lot of procrastinating about getting ready to teach tomorrow, so I’ve decided that I’m going to plan the first two classes here.  Maybe posting my plans will help keep me, you know, actually making plans; I tend to be a teach-by-the-seat-of-my-pants  kind of gal, especially when it comes to classes where I feel competent in the subject matter, and I know that’s not always the best way to go.

Okay, so Monday’s class will pretty much be typical of all other first-day-of-classes.  I’ll start by handing out the syllabus, which I’ve decided to keep pretty generic.  Rather than get all specific about putting down assignments – which I thought I might do this term – I’m going to only list the required reading for each week.  I decided that I want to give myself a lot of freedom to choose what the students should focus on from week to week, and I find that they’re less resistant to that sort of thing if I’m not changing what’s already on the syllabus.

After we read the syllabus, I’ll go around the room, from student to student, and make initial contact.  We’ll chat, the class and I, about what we hope to get from the class, what we think or strengths and weaknesses are going into the course, and what the expectations are for performance and behavior – both theirs and mine.

I’ll probably get them writing right off the bat on Monday – I’ll ask them to put together a one- to two-minute speech about what makes them who they are (I’ll compose one for me this afternoon, perhaps, and post it later.  I’ll deliver this to them as an example of what I’m looking for).  I’m also going to show them this clip:

Taylor Mali is someone I admire a great deal, and I love this poem because it makes an important point in a way that is completely accessible to his audience.

Wednesday’s class launches right into the idea of ethics and communication, though I’m thinking that I might want to go over the very basics of speech making – topic, purpose, audience, tone, that sort of thing – before we start talking about what is and is not considered ethical speech.  For their writing, I’ll ask them to consider the kind of communication they usually participate in and encourage them to consider how active a role they take in their own exchanges with others and the media.  I’ll ask them to discuss the kind of communication they find most difficult (fighting with a lover, talking to someone they perceive to be of higher status then themselves, trying to defend a belief or idea or action) and how the strategies they employ in those circumstances may or may not be different from the way they communicate in situations that they don’t consider stressful.  More than anything else, I want them to understand that this class isn’t some detached, bullshit requirement that the school demands they complete; I want them to see that, even if they’ll  never deliver another speech outside of our room, the skills they practice here will serve them, regardless of where the go from here.

So goes week one.

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8 Comments

Filed under about writing, analysis, critical thinking, ethics, I love my job, out in the real world, self-analysis, Teaching

8 responses to “The First Two Classes

  1. There’s actually a vid of some guy lip-synching it that I like even better – I think it’s cuz he’s not performing for an audience there with him, but for the camera, so it’s more directed at ME now. ;)

    Plus he’s got this awesome rubber face.

    And I HEART TAYLOR MALI! AND HIS POEMS! WOOT!

    Good luck, Chili!

  2. I’d love to see you syllabus, if you’ll share! It’s cool to see how other teachers, especially in other disciplines, structure their stuff.

  3. “you” s/b “your”. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone syllabus before. How does one do that?

  4. Dear Mrs Chili,

    What a great way to kick you procrastination! Your class sounds very well prepared. Are you looking forward to working with a new group of students? For me, it will just be the same faces, and the period already started before winterbreak so I guess we’ll just pick up from where we left.

    Have a wonderful 2009!

  5. Pingback: Sunday links. « Fred Klonsky’s blog

  6. Darci

    I love the clip…I think it will be the start of the new semester for Leadership…thoughts on that will be interesting. I am procrastinating about developing a lesson plan for Love of Life by Jack London. We have to teach it in Literature Circles, which I love, but think the kids will freak….oh Yay

  7. Procrastination rocks. Thank god my classes don’t start for another 10 days so I have even more time to procrastinate.

  8. beryllium

    That’s an excellent clip! If I was taking your class as you’ve described it I think I’d learn a lot, and seems like it might be fun too!

    (I’ve been reading a little while without commenting. Perhaps that poem inspired me to actually say something. After all, I’ve been enjoying it, so I should say thanks!)

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