Reflection #2

I definitely preferred the Memoir Unit over the Introduction Letter. Students seemed more engaged in the process of constructing the memoir than the Intro Letter.

As to challenges, the struggle for me was overcoming objections from students who were using their fears about challenges of personal writing to not challenge themselves. This feels really like I’m blaming students for their reasonable fears, which I guess maybe I am, but I rationally understand that students who’ve been trained to write a certain way have trouble stepping out of their comfort zones.

I required students to visit the Writing Center during conference week, but that turned into a total fiasco. I told students to take a photo of themselves in the Writing Center, then submit it through Blackboard as proof of attendance. I told them they didn’t “have to take pictures of the interns,” just a selfie. I thought this would be a cute picture students could post to their ePortfolios. Instead, it was a total fiasco.

I didn’t use strong enough language in my instructions, despite knowing better. My “you don’t have to” turned into my students taking pictures of the interns as proof they were there. Dr. Dayton contacted me about the issue, so I immediately sent out an email stating very clearly not to take pictures in the Writing Center. Unfortunately, because it was a conference week, I wasn’t seeing them in person, so it continued, prompting another email from Dr. Dayton. So then I had to send out a very sternly worded email. I’m super embarrassed, and I definitely won’t be doing that again.

On Monday, despite really wanting to come to class and lose my cool about following instructions and people’s rights to privacy, we had a calm discussion about the ethics of photography in public and semi-public spaces and requesting things from people at work when they may have a difficult time saying no. Rationally, I know that it was a good lesson for me and the students about handling instructions. I know that photo and video is so normalized for them that it wouldn’t have occurred to a lot of students to consider whether or not they should take photos in this situation. I still hate that what I thought would be a cute exercise may have made people uncomfortable.

Okay, so successes. Some of the students really pushed themselves to produce quality writing. I feel like I created an environment where they could take risks with their writing in a way that produced some cool results. I think the conferences went really well, which was nice, and I got the opportunity to recover a couple of students that might not have passed the course otherwise. Conferences are a huge, time-consuming pain, but they are really effective at producing results. I’m going to continue to think about ways to streamline the process.

If I could do one thing over again, I would not do the Writing Center thing the same way. As for teaching, I think I would do something different with the analysis of memoir. They were perfectly happy to rip some of the student writing to pieces, but I haven’t found a significant difference between the student writing they heavily criticized and their own, which is funny, yes. But I think they may have been so focus on the clunky language of an early draft that they missed this significance of its content. One thing that I will definitely repeat is the writing day where they were instructed to produce an ugly draft and complete a rhetorical analysis of it. At the end of a class period, students had a rough draft to start working on and revising.

Looking ahead, I’m going to take students step by step in the writing process. I’ve also switched up how I procure examples. In the memoir unit, I provided them myself. In the profile unit, I’m asking students to procure quality profiles from the Internet that we can discuss in class.