For Teachers: In Consideration of Students Who Take You At Your Word

turkeyI got a text in all caps today from my daughter, who is in her senior year of college. It read: “MY WEDNESDAY CLASS WAS JUST CANCELLED.” That class is next week and is the day before Thanksgiving. I have been in enough classrooms to know that this professor was instant hero. And he knew it too.

Students love when classes are cancelled. In 25 years of teaching college, I rarely cancelled mine. In fact, when I was pregnant with that same daughter, I had students come to me and also write in my evaluations that they thought for sure I would be cancelling a lot of classes because of my pregnancy, and they were surprised (some disappointed, quite honestly) that I never called in sick.

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Thoughts on that which is known as an “empty nest”

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The first photo of the three of us.

Adrift.

It’s the word that keeps coming to mind. Adrift. Rudderless. Alone. Confused. Mired in the moment.

I’m struggling. And I knew I would be. And even though I tried to imagine what it would be like once both of my kids were off to college, I couldn’t quite capture it. And now I know why. This feeling is too unfamiliar.

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Meeting Challenges Head-On

IMG_3373One of the decisions I made for 2017 was to do things that are difficult. One night I was thinking that it had been too long since I did something that was really hard for me, where I really challenged myself.

I felt this was especially important because I have finished one major writing project (my screenplay) and have not started another yet. Well, the screenplay is not “finished,” exactly. But I like the draft I have, and I am taking a break from continuously nitpicking at it. I figured I could use some distance from it while I wait to hear from people who are looking at funding it.
Any decisions in that regard have been put on hold for a few months to wait and see what this Trump presidency will do to investments in entertainment, if anything. That’s fine. I get it.

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The Fear of Those Who Are Different (and the power of writing) Part 2

This is the second in a series. To read part one of The Fear of Those Who Are Different, click here.

protestorsA story I relate to my classes each semester regards a proposal made a number of years back in, I believe, the Oakland Unified School District. It stated that the required literature assigned to high school students must be written by authors who reflect the gender and race makeup of the student body. So, for example, if the required reading included ten novels, and fifty percent of the student body were female, then five of those books would need to be written by women authors. And if sixty percent of the student body were Hispanic (which was the word of choice at that time for people who came from countries whose primary language was Spanish), then six of the authors would need to be Hispanic. And so forth.

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The Fear of Those Who Are Different (and the power of writing)

hateMy daughter was home from college for winter break, and after watching yet another news story about a horrible crime steeped in hatred, we found ourselves discussing how much hatred there seems to be in the world. My daughter resignedly asked if I thought there would be a time when people are simply accepting of others.

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It Is Possible!!

Here is a great article about a gentleman who was extremely successful with the first screenplay that he wrote. I am posting it for two reasons: one, the strategies I used for writing my screenplay are very similar (so I must be on the right track), and two, it is possible!!

Enjoy!

Living the Dream: First-Time Screenwriter Jonathan Perera on His Movie Miss Sloane

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https://screencraft.org/2016/12/16/living-the-dream-first-time-screenwriter-jonathan-perera-on-his-movie-miss-sloane/

“I Tried Really Hard!”

bikeWhat is more important? The effort or the results?

I guess it depends.

I teach at a university on the side of my writing. And I teach writing – no surprise I am sure.

But I had an interesting exchange with a student yesterday. She was upset that she received a C on the report that I had just returned in my business writing class. I have turned this class into much more than simply business writing, however. I have emphasized professionalism and leadership as well.

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The Necessity of Feedback

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First day of the semester

I’ve neglected this blog, but I am back! A large reason I have disappeared for a minute is because I teach part time at a local university, and the new semester began. I am teaching more classes than I usually do, and so I have been busy getting into a groove.

But as I grade papers, I have been thinking a lot about feedback and it’s importance. I tell a story at the beginning of each semester about a poetry class I took in graduate school. As I paged through the first essay returned to us, I noted periodic checkmarks, which I assumed meant that I was hitting a point the professor was looking for. On the last page, he wrote “Good” and gave me a B. Hmmmmm. That made no sense to me. I must have uttered my confusion out loud because a student next to me assured me that the problem was probably that I had a lot of grammar errors – hence the B.

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Creativity. Part Two

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Captain. My muse. Who happens to be musing…

I can’t help it. I guess I am not done with this whole idea of creativity, especially in regards to education’s impact on it.

I just came from a beginning-of-the-year meeting with other college English teachers. And my head is spinning. I have learned that I am a dinosaur, and I need to keep my mouth shut at this point. I wish I did not feel that way, but I have had my share of voicing my opinion and have learned that the system is way bigger than me and the cost of speaking up is very high. Hence my giving up a tenured professorship a few years back to teach part time.

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Flex that Creativity Muscle

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One place I more easily tap into my creativity is at the water.

Creativity.

More and more I understand the importance of creativity for surviving (and thriving!). But I also see the failure of so many people to live creatively. Teaching someone how to tap into their creative being is the best gift we can give each other.

A few years ago, I met a gentleman who was a film producer, producing (and sometimes writing) countless movies for television, the kinds of movies I watch to escape. Much like when I read Danielle Steele as a teenager because I just needed a break from the intensity of a Tolstoy or an Orwell. And I loved her books for that. And I enjoyed his movies for the same reason.

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