Crossing Fingers

The “wish list” of courses for adjunct professors came out yesterday, and I gave Joe (Santa?) my picks.

I am having such a remarkably wonderful time teaching my literature course that I’m desperately hoping to score another one next term.  While I very often feel like a legitimate teacher in front of my other classes, nothing has felt quite so right as this lit. section; I really feel as though I’m in my element in this class.  Our discussions are rich and lively, my students – some of them, anyway – are starting to take risks with their thinking and are coming to recognize that there may not actually BE any right answers.  One of them – the only man in the course – has found a particular joy in the work and has really hit a stride in both the conversations we have in class and in the work he does on his own.

The students are starting to see, I think, what the point of literature classes is (or, at least, what the point of MY literature classes is): the shared experience of a story (or a poem or a play or a film or any piece of “literature”) gives us a common vantage point from which to interpret not only that piece of literature, but also other things in our world.  Rick used Frankenstein to think about advances in modern science.  Punkin’ Pie used Monty Python to better understand a book she was reading.  I used what I knew about Dante’s Inferno to help me figure out the lyrics to Sting’s The Soul Cages.  My point here is that literature classes – MY literature classes – aren’t about learning literary periods or how to discern the narrative style or how to reproduce iambic pentameter; for me, lit classes are all about how to make lit meaningful out in the world.  I leave my job energized and excited – I really feel like I belong leading discussions about books, stories, and poems.

The upshot is that I really, really want to keep teaching this class.  The downside of this desire is that it’s likely to turn into a broken heart: one of the full time professors takes all the literature courses (I’m pretty sure that this person doesn’t actually teach anything BUT literature.  There may be another post in here somewhere about how I don’t agree with the bosses’ decision to allow that to happen – I think there should be a range of teaching styles offered to TCC students, but we’ll get into that later…maybe).

There’s ONE class being offered that I have a shot at getting:  it’s on Monday nights from 8:15 to 10:30.  The person who takes the lit classes doesn’t take night sections, so there’s the possibility that I might be able to keep teaching my beloved  course.  I won’t know for a while, though – I’m hoping to hear from Santa soon.  Until then, I’m crossing my fingers and sending up wishes to the Universe.




Filed under colleagues, I love my boss, Literature, self-analysis, success!, Teaching, the good ones

9 responses to “Crossing Fingers

  1. Good luck getting the course!

    I love teaching literature too, but it’s a little more difficult to delve into the complexity of stories with my 9th graders. Their thoughts just don’t follow the same routes as those of a Senior.

    I really love a good discussion too, where students can start to make connections, and they can start to talk about ideas in the class. It’s just not the same with composition. The opportunities don’t present themselves in my classes as often as I’d like, which is something I’ll have to work on for next year.

  2. M-Dawg

    Crossing my fingers for you and sending you lots of positive vibes for the lit course!!!!! 🙂

    I totally agree with Seth’s comments about 9th graders – they just can’t get into the heavy discussions that an older group of students can accomplish.

  3. ooh, good luck! i hope you get to keep teaching it. 🙂

  4. Good luck! I must say, I’m feeling a little gypped here. I took a lit course with my most favoritist professor without first considering the fact that the course (Early American Lit) filled TWO Gen Ed requirements.

    I ended up being one of 3 English majors in the class, along with a continuing ed student. If I had to hear the definition of Theme one more time, I was going to choke on my pen. I also am not a fan of most of that early literature, and I had been hoping for a class where I could develop an appreciation for it. Nope. The professor had to spend all of our class time teaching people how to read text in a way they should have learned in high school.

    Meanwhile, the continuing ed student just wasn’t getting ANYTHING and was very vocal about this. When she finally said one day, “I don’t read to look for “hidden” meanings; I just read for enjoyment,” I nearly jumped over two people to strangle her. Nothing against continuing eds, because I can appreciate that they are out living in the real world and trying to grasp all of the non-reality that is the college experience, but there are just some things they need to learn to accept when coming back to college. Analysis for the simple sake of learning to analyze being one of them.

    Anyway, I’m not still bitter about that or anything. 😉

    I hope you get another lit class!!!

  5. Seth, you’re right about the 9th grade vs. the 12th grade brain. I’ve got a student in this class who’s still stuck in the middle school paradigm: she can’t read for concepts or for connections – she reads for facts. I had to give her a new mid-term because she couldn’t manage the essay questions (and there are some GOOD ones) that asked the students to consider the answers to questions in relation to the novel (“what is evil? Is it learned or is it part of the human condition? What do you think, and what do you think SHELLEY thinks?”). I ended up re-working a multiple choice, plot-based exam for her. Completely joyless. Sigh.

    Dawg, how the hell are you!?

    Lara, thanks – I’ll let you all know, as soon as I know, whether I got the course or not.

    Leah, I’m TOTALLY with you on this. I HATE having classmates who just won’t play along – though, on the other side, I love it when we get a group who’s completely into it, so I guess there has to be balance.

    My personal experience has been that people go into these courses just to fulfill the credits: they don’t have a rich understanding of the purpose that these classes are supposed to serve (though, to be fair, a lot of professors don’t, either, so we can’t blame the students entirely). I was lucky to have, early in my college career, a couple of professors who encouraged me to reach just beyond my grasp; I once did a paper for a criticism class that connected Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a scholarly article about the idea of the “man-god,” and an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I was nervous about handing it in, thinking that pop culture and erudite scholarship don’t mix, but the professor was THRILLED with it. Not only did I get a perfect score for the piece, she asked to copy it so that she could offer it as an example, for later classes, of insightful and productive use of literature.

    I’m still a little high over that…

  6. Good Luck! I have two classes this semester that run from 7:15 to 9:45 PM. As a student, I can tell you that I start to fade at 9:00… especially since we turned the clocks back. Night school can be tough…

  7. I hope you get the courses that you want. It makes all the difference in the world when you are teaching curriculum that you love to teach. Keeping my fingers crossed and hope you keep us posted!

  8. Oh, I hope you’ll get the course you want! What amazes me is how one class can change from year to year. Last year I was teaching a class which was a dream. They were always involved, said and did really nice, sweet and witty things, and they did very well on all the tests. This year I can’t get them do anything productive and their overall attitude is sloppy and uninterested. It seems like only a certain combination of time, place and subject matter can produce the wonderful situation you are currently enjoying! At the same time, I think every teacher has one particular age group that he likes working with most. Mine are the 16 years olds. Even though every class is different, this age seems to be the most workable and inspiring age for me.

    Let us know when you have news on the courses!

  9. In college I only had to take two lit courses. The second one was at night and it was the only class I took where the idea was to come to class with ideas about the work and discuss them. I’m talking sitting in a circle and just chatting all class. It was a night class at that! Three wonderful hours with this wonderful woman.

    It sounds like your classes are a lot like this. I want to teach classes like that one day. Hope you get at least one lit class.

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