That’s the sound of our roller-coaster car, being hauled up the big hill.
Classes resume at TCC on Monday. I spent the better part of today thinking and planning – with the generous and helpful help of Organic Mama – and feel like I’m very well prepared to begin the adventure. Mama helped me greatly with the parts about teaching that I really dislike (because I don’t think I’m really good at them): namely the week-to-week planning and the writing of the syllabus. I still have a tiny bit of work to do in those areas – finishing up said syllabus and mapping out readings and assignments – but I’m more than well on my way to being done with the fussy parts of the course.
The fun starts when the classes meet. The first class is going to be pretty generic; we’ll go over the syllabus and I will make posi-tutely certain that everyone understands the rules and expectations – I may even make them sign something stating that they received, read and UNDERSTOOD said rules and expectations. I’m calling to mind a quote from The Hunt for Red October: the American captain sends out torpedoes, then yells “Full safeties! I don’t want these fish comin’ back at me!” Yeah. I don’t want to be fighting or negotiating with the students about when work is due, now or at the end of the term. It’s just easier for everyone if the rules are clear and consistent at the outset.
I also have to collate a bunch of readings for the students for the first day of classes. I really do want these composition courses to be heavy on the reading, regardless of how loudly the students may complain about that. I learn so much by reading and immersing myself in language and I really do believe that my reading makes me a better writer. I want to give my students the opportunity to learn that for themselves.
Finally, I want to give them a lot of visual things to work with. I recognize that the nature of TCC isn’t really academic and that most students won’t do anything that they don’t believe has some sort of practical value. I’m working on ways to make writing relevant to them, and I think that using visuals and teaching them to really describe what they see will trigger a response in my students – many of whom are in culinary or graphic arts programs. I’m also planning at least one persuasive essay because I think it’s vitally important that students have experience in getting an important idea across clearly and convincingly.
I think it’s going to be a good term, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you here.