my first week teaching WR 121

Well, it’s the end of my first week teaching Wr 121. Whew, where to start.

What I’m happy about: I like the energy I have in class. I’m animated and definitely “into it.” I like leading discussions of the readings. I’m think I’m pretty good at that — or, at least, I have a lot of potential to be really good at it.

I like my students. Three of them interviewed me for their Engr 111 class. They have to interview one of their professors (as an exercise in college skills, I presume) and ask questions such as “What is your field of interest?” and “Why did you choose your field?” They chose me because I’m their one “professor” who actually has some personal interaction with them. (I asked them all the first day about their other courses, and some of them are in lecture courses with as many as 500 people in them.) Anyway, I enjoyed all three conversations very much — one, because, it’s of course ego-boosting to be asked about yourself, and two, because I enjoy talking to students about their education, their interests (and that’s where the conversation fortunately led).

I also liked the moment I explained what “organization and coherence” meant (in going over the grading criteria for all papers), using an analogy of feeding someone — comparing the fine chef with an academic writer, basically. The chef wants the “eater” to experience the meal in a certain way. So she gives him the appetizer to whet his appetite, then this course, then this. She doesn’t say, “Open your mouth” and just pour all the food in at once. There’s a certain order that helps her give her “eater” the experience she wants him to have. And, in the same way, a writer wants to present things to her reader in a way that best maximizes his experience, his understanding. Anyway… as I was explaining it in my second class, being even a bit dramatic about it, acting it out, in my peripheral vision I could see three students obviously really engaged with what I was saying. And when I asked, “Does that analogy work? That make sense?” Two of those students nodded readily. So that was a charge.

I also like that I am starting to think it will be possible to learn all 50 names by next week. I think I’ve got about half of them.  It’s taken a lot of my concentration, though, when I also needed to be thinking about where the lesson plan was going, or what I was about to say next, but…

What I don’t like…  Well, I’m worried that I can’t cover all I need to cover. That’s a very common worry, and I tell myself that I won’t be able to cover everything (and that that’s okay). But still… it’s frustrating and anxiety-causing.

I’ve been a bit surprised at how utterly exhausted I feel after teaching the two classes. Wow.

I spent 6-7 hours grading the first homework assignment (with checks, check-pluses, or check-minuses). On one hand, I think it was helpful because I tried to make my comments help lead them to a focus or even a thesis for their first essay. But, on the other hand, I think I need to spend less time commenting on informal writing. Gotta spend the oh-so valuable time focusing more on the bigger fish to fry — the three major papers.

And now, let’s see, what else? Well, there’s a lot more, but I think I’d better move to working on this weekend’s to-do list (and it’s a long one).

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4 thoughts on “my first week teaching WR 121

  1. Great job, Laura. It’s wonderful that you want to comment so much on the informals – and right now when you have less to do, it can work. But as you said, once 50 students turn in drafts on Friday, you will have to work on that. I wish I could reassure you that every student will read every comment you so carefully write. Some will, and will appreciate them, as the Harvard Across the drafts DVD points out. Maybe we need to talk about the time aspect of commenting at practicum. What do you think?

  2. Well, we probably should definitely ask the new TAs how much time they’re spending on commenting already… Or we could wait until they get the first drafts and then see what they say.

    Yep, for me, I know I’m spending too much time. I’m already adjusting things so I can spend less time — on informals. I do like commenting, though, and feel it’s one of my strengths — and of course, I feel it’s very helpful for them (even though, yeah, many students don’t even look at the comments).

    I’m curious how much time Julie is spending on the homeworks on Blackboard.

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