I feel that I have learned so much through writing of all types, from research projects to blogs. I’ve learned about myself. I’ve learned about other people. I’ve thought about new ideas, and revised old one’s. Writing is crucial to who I am as a person.
But today I feel like I’ve learned nothing at all.
What have I gotten myself into?
Next semester, in addition to directing a play and teaching theater classes to college students as well as children, I will be teaching two Comp I classes for the local Community College; one in person, one online.
No problem! I thought to myself when I agreed to do this. I’ve spent the last 4 years teaching Freshman Comp courses at a 4 year college. I can do it.
Bam! Bam! Bam! That’s the sound of me pounding my head on the wall.
Seriously, I know I can do it. I’m a good teacher. I’ve had intense semesters in the past. I’ve had success with students, as well as a few failures. I accomplish more the more I have to do.
Yet, as I work on the syllabi for the coming semester (I’m one of those people who likes to have them done before break so that I can relax more) I realize that the obstacles are new:
- I’ve never taught an on-line course before, so I need to learn a whole new way of interacting with my students.
- The text they use is different from the previous school, so I have a new approach to things and new readings. (Which is not a bad thing).
- The student population here is a little more challenging. Not that it was easy in my former job, but I find it really difficult to teach students who either never come to class or never turn anything in.
So what is my solution to this insanity? Add more complexity to my courses. I’ve decided I want my students to blog. I plan on adding a blog site for my students (and possibly students from other sections). They will be able to contribute new posts. They will be able to respond to each other’s posts. The blog will also be accessible to the public.
Why? Why add this craziness to a group of students who may never like writing; some of whom have basic challenges in grammar.
I believe that the way to become a better writer is by writing. reading other writing, and writing some more. Knowing that you have an audience helps. since we teach about purpose and audience, what better way to help them learn than providing a purpose or an audience. If the students realize that their audience moves beyond myself and their classmates, maybe they will approach writing with a different attitude.
Or they will run screaming and I will lose students faster than a tornado.
Stay tuned for this grand experiment.
Update: If anyone is interested, the new blog is http://icccompositionpage.wordpress.com/. The grand experiment has begun!