Thursday, November 30, 2006

Plus One

Joe, my boss at Tiny Community College, called this afternoon and left a message on my machine.

He's caught in the throes of trying to figure out next term's schedule, and he warned me earlier this week, when he gave me the schedule for the two classes that he wanted me to take, that nothing's settled yet. I mentioned before that it takes him a while to work up to full speed, and that I always assume the worst when he wants to speak to me. I'm still not sure why I do it, but I can tell you for sure that I still do - the first few seconds of his voice message went like this:

"Hi, Chili, it's Joe. I need you to call me back, I've got some problems with your schedule."

"Damn!" I thought, "there goes at least one of my classes, if not both of them..." He saved me, though, with his next sentence:

"I might need you to take on at least one other class. Call me back when you get this. Bye"

I'm now the instructor or record (at least, tentatively) for three composition courses; two standard classes that meet face-to-face twice a week (Joe calls them "chalk and talks") and one hybrid course that meets once a week in a classroom and does the rest of the credit hours online.

I was hoping to not have any online courses. I'm not entirely comfortable with online delivery and I find that it's harder to keep students focused when they don't have a set time to meet and attend to the work for a class. Still, having experience teaching online courses can only be a good thing, given the current trend in that direction in higher education. I'm working on some ideas for an online class - one that may use blogging as a tool for learning to write - and I'm open to any suggestions you may have.

I'm going to have a LOT of reading to do next term!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Grammar Wednesday, Week Two!

Affect and effect seem to be problem words for a lot of my readers, so that will be the subject of the second Grammar Wednesday!

Affect* is a verb, and can have a couple of different meanings. The least common use of the two meanings is “to pretend or assume (as in, “take on”).

“I affect a terrible British accent, but my friend can swear like a drunken Scot.”

“Nervous before every board meeting, Shondra affects a calm she does not feel.”

The second, most common use of the verb is “to influence, act on, or produce an effect.:”

“The loss of the homecoming game affected the team’s morale so badly that they never won another game that year.”

“My hope is that my election to the committee will affect some change in how that body is run.”

Effect** is almost always used as a noun meaning “a consequence or result” and is used with an article:

”The effect of the sale is that the company will have to lay off 20% of its work force.”

“My joke at the funeral did not have the effect I was hoping for.”

As Kizz pointed out in one of the comments for the last Grammar Wednesday, a lot of these questions boil down to elocution. In this case, though, a little mumbling can be your friend: it’s hard to tell the difference between “affect” and “effect” when speaking. When you’re writing, though, choose the right word by trying to replace the word with whatever tense of “influence” you need. If “influence” works, use “affect.” If "result" works, use effect. For example:

“The loss of the homecoming game influenced the team’s moral...” works (but result doesn't)

“My joke at the funeral did not have the influence I wanted.” doesn’t. (but "result" does)

You can also figure out if you’re using the right word by putting “an” or “the” in front of the word in question. Effect takes an article; affect does not.

Still confused?

Affect / Action

Effect / Result

*Affect also has a noun form, but it used almost exclusively in psychological contexts (and, I'm fairly sure, some Shelley poetry) and, as such, most of us don’t bother to waste valuable brain cells in learning the meaning. If you have brain cells to spare, however, the definition of the noun form of affect is “a feeling or emotion.”

**Effect has a verb form, too; but, again, it’s not at all common. The definition, according to my Webster’s dictionary, is “to bring about, accomplish, or make happen” and the example they give me is “The change to automation was effected last spring.” In all my years studying English and writing for college, I’m not sure I’ve ever used effect as a verb.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"They LIKE Me! Right Now, They LIKE Me!"

Does anyone else remember Sally Field's 1985 Oscar acceptance speech?

I remember her being ridiculed for it, but I've got to tell you here that I think I know how she felt. There is a rush to being accepted for the work that you do, for receiving acknowlegement that you do it well, and for feeling that others admire you for doing it.

I got a little bit of that positive reinforcement from TCC yesterday when my department head took me aside as I was leaving.

Of course, it took a while to get to the "positive" part. When he first asked to see me, I was bracing for bad news.

You need to understand that my boss is a strange little man. He's very, VERY supportive of the work that his staff does. He's fair and kind and honest. He may be the best boss I've ever had. What makes him strange, though, is that he often gives off very negative vibes when he first approaches people. Honestly - every time he's asked to speak to me, I've blazed through my memory to see if there's anything that I've done that could have landed me in his doghouse. Did I swear in a classroom? Did I wear something inappropriate to class? Did I fail to teach something that was on the syllabus? Is a student complaining about me?

Now, I recognize that this is my default position, and I'm working hard to overcome that, but he doesn't make it any easier by his tone or body language. Once in his office, though, the icy exterior melts and everything is just fine. It's always a relief to see that, and yesterday was no exception.

He'd called me up to let me know that TCC wants me back to teach next semester! WOO HOO!!

Though nothing's written in stone, he's set me up to teach two composition courses - there may be more classes on my schedule as he finishes assigning courses to instructors, and I told him that I'd be more than happy to take anything he needs me to fill. I'm particularly excited to be teaching comp. courses - I've been wanting to teach writing for a while now, and having a new discipline adds valuable experience to my resume. It's all good, all the way around.

I'm floating on a little cloud of "I love what I do and I'm SO grateful that I'm being given the opportunity to do it," and I wanted to share.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Required Reading

I have a special place in my heart for Martin Luther King Jr.

He and I share a birthday and, even though he was assassinated before I was born, I've always felt close to the man. I've written here before that I have a particular interest in human struggles for equality and respect. Brother Martin is an embodiment of that concept for me, and I never tire of learning about the work that he did to bring about essential change in this country.

In my public speaking class last week, I found myself with time I wasn't expecting. Several of the students weren't prepared to give their speeches, so the time that I'd blocked off for student work was left empty. This time was not insignificant and I wasn't about to let the kids leave THAT early, despite their clamoring. I was certain that, as soon as the last kid left, my department head would poke his head in and wonder where the hell my class was. This is attention I don't want.

Being particularly good on my feet (read: I can wing it with pretty reliable success) and trying to fill that time, I though it might be useful to talk about rhetoric. The students have a working understanding of the term, but I'm not sure they really appreciate the nuances of the idea of the skillful use of language or of the power that a secure command of the language holds. I had thought to use MLK's Dream speech to draw the students into a discussion about rhythm and cadence, of word choice and order, of metaphor and the power of the well-written word. When I asked them if they could offer up an example of a rhetorical structure that Dr. King used in his most famous speech, I was met with nine pairs of glassy-eyes. Seriously - nine slack-jawed students who couldn't give me anything more substantial than "Uh, 'I have a dream'?"

SO! I'm making the (not-so-risky) assumption that the students who are supposed to be prepared to speak today aren't, and I've gone ahead and printed out the text to Dr. King's speech, along with some questions to get them thinking - and writing (good GOD, but they need writing practice!) about this essential bit of American rhetoric. This, for me, is the proverbial killing of two birds (possibly three) - the students need work in reading and writing, this gives them exposure to something that I think all students should be more than passingly familar with, and, since most of my students need opportunities to bring their grades up, it gives me something else to add to their average.

Hopefully, everybody wins.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Writer's Life

The other day, I was driving home from a shopping trip with Organic Mama, when we started talking about language. We’re English teachers, the two of us, and putting us in one place for longer than, oh, ten minutes usually results in some sort of conversation about language, so this, in itself, isn’t really newsworthy. I bring it up only to illustrate to you, Dear Readers, that language is something I think about quite often, It’s part of my everyday existence. I live it, think it, breathe it.

One of the things that I love to do is to collect language that inspires me. There are songs that I love just for a series of six or seven words in them that make me think that there’s much more under the surface of those words. I have a notebook next to my bed in which I put quotes from books I read that speak to me. These quotes don’t have to be anything earth-shattering; they don’t have to represent a truth or reveal the inner workings of the Great Spirit - though, most often, that’s exactly what they do - they just have to work. They have to embody more than just the words on the page. They need to be poetry in the truest sense of the word; a collection of language that transcends language and offers a glimpse into the endlessness of thought and knowledge and belief. It needs to be magic.

Am I making any sense?

Here is some of the language I’ve collected:

“Angels come in many shapes and sizes, and most of them are not invisible” (Expecting Adam by Martha Beck)

“The closer I’m bound in love to you, the closer I am to free” (“Power of Two,” Indigo Girls, Swamp Ophelia)
“I believe that cultivating compassion is one of the principal things that make our lives worthwhile” - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“Eclipse of the moon when the dark bird flies, where is the child in his father’s eyes?” (“Soul Cages,” Sting, The Soul Cages)

“I have found a wish ‘till things happen. The very atoms I’m made of come apart in a kind of sparkle. A cloud of sparkle propelled by will” (Ahab’s Wife, Sena Jeter Naslund)

“ it just that the world unwraps itself to you, again and again, as soon as you are ready to see it anew?” (Wicked, Gregory Maguire)

“I know now what trouble can be, and why it follows me so easily” (“Shackled,” Vertical Horizon, Everything You Want)

There are many, many more, but I’ll stop here. I told you all of this so could tell you I found a bit of language worth collecting last Thursday over at Feather's place. She wrote:

Sometimes I'm homesick
-- physically homesick, bone-achingly --
for a place that I haven't found yet.

Just imagine what lies beneath the surface of those words.....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Would You Do?

So, I sent an email to my students about the assignment that's due for Monday. It went like this:

In order to get an A on this assignment, the following criteria must be met:

-you must have some sort of preliminary outline. It doesn't have to follow strict outline form, but it must give me a roadmap to how you put your speech together and what points you plan to research for the final product. Most of you have put the barest minimum of effort into your outlines thus far - do some work on this one, please. This part of the packet may be hand-written (but may NOT be on a napkin!)

-your speech must be at least (AT LEAST!) five to seven minutes long if read aloud. Do yourself a favor - read it to a friend and have them time you, because you KNOW I'll check. It must have a good, solid central idea, at least three supporting points and a clear conclusion. The writing must be clear and convincing college-level work. Avoid generalizations, broad statements, unsupported statements and words like "a lot" and "really." Oh, and it must be typed.

-you must hand in a comprehensive bibliography (also typed) with your speech. I don't care if you use APA or MLA citation style (if you don't know what I'm talking about, LOOK IT UP!!), but make sure whichever you use is complete and consistent. I'm looking for at least (AT LEAST!) three sources, and one of them MUST be from a print resource (ie, NOT a website - find a book or magazine or professional journal or government report or....).

-your entire packet - outline, speech and bibliography - must be grammatically clean. You must have proper punctuation and spelling, subject-verb agreement, and clear use of pronouns. Make sure your language is clear and correct, please. Remember, I'm an English teacher...

Yesterday, I got an electronic file from one of my favorite students. He has written a persuasive speech about spraying insecticide as a preventative for triple-e. His sister died of the disease last year, and it's pretty obvious that he feels very strongly about his argument for action.

The speech itself isn’t particularly persuasive; he relied a great deal on emotional appeal and righteous anger at the cavalier attitude of those who think that triple-e is not a significant threat. Neither is it especially well-written - there were more than a few grammatical errors and he’s got a bit of a ‘flow’ problem. It’s not a bad speech, mind you, but it’s not A quality work. If this were the only requirement of the assignment, I'd probably give him a strong B.

Here's my problem:

While the student did quote from various newspapers, he has submitted neither an outline nor a bibliography - two of the required elements for the assignment. The question that I posed in the title of this post is this: do I chase him down for these items, or do I simply dock the grade accordingly?

Friday, November 24, 2006

MPAA Rating

Husband and I were settling in to watch a video the other night - Mission Impossible III, which I wanted to see for its own sake long before Tom Cruise opened his mouth and proved to the world what a moron he is - when the MPAA rating screen came up:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace,
disturbing images and some sensuality.

I'm not sure which stopped me first - the "frenetic violence" or the "menace." Husband actually stopped the DVD so we could make sure we were really reading the rating correctly - neither of us ever remembered having seen a movie described in quite that way.

What prompted me to write about this is that, five minutes ago, MeadMaker called me. We had talked about getting together to watch football on Sunday, and he was calling to confirm the plans.

"While I have you on the phone," he said, "do you know what 'frenetic' means?"

"Yeah," I said, "it means crazy-busy, lots-going-on-at-once kind of movement. Think 'ADD'."

"Yeah," he said, "I know what it means now - I had to look it up. I'm only asking because we were watching a movie the other day, and it came up as part of the little warning thingy they have about the rating."

We figured out in short order that we'd watched the same film, and that the rating description had stopped him short, too, but for different reasons. He wasn't sure he'd ever encountered the word "frenetic" before and figured that if he, being reasonably educated and well-read, didn't know what the word meant, he's betting that the better part of the American viewership of films wouldn't know it, either.

"Yeah, probably," I said, "but how many people do you think actually READ those things, anyway?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reason Number 2

I spent yesterday with Wayfarer and Sooza and their daughters. Sooza's parents live in my general area (read: the same area code), so they pack up the girls for Thanksgiving and Christmas and head up this way. On the third Wednesday of November, we meet at a commuter train station to take the train into the city. It's a lovely tradition we have of going somewhere -a museum, an aquarium, whatever - on the day before Thanksgiving. We also have a tradition of gathering at our place for breakfast on Boxing Day, but that's another post.

Anyway, we were on the train yesterday morning when Sooza said to me "OH! I wanted to tell you why you shouldn't get your Ph.D.!" Why I shouldn't? Really? Okay...

Her contention (and she's 100% right, I just know it) is that having my Ph.D. will close more doors than it opens. With a Ph.D., I'm put into a salary bracket that most schools (not all, certainly, but most) won't be prepared to pay, particularly if I'm looking at high schools or junior or community colleges.

I'm not sure that I do want to work in high school - the jury is still out on that - but I am pretty sure that I don't want to deal with the tenure-track professor crap. I kind of like working at TCC (and I'm putting my resume out to other smaller colleges in my area for the coming term), and my MA serves me just fine in that capacity.

I feel, though, like I'm not done learning yet. I may seek another Master's degree at some point in the not-too-distant future, but the idea of a Ph.D. is seeming less and less appealing.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Grammar Wednesday!!!

This post marks the first Grammar Wednesday! Thank you to all of you who encouraged this idea - and thanks to Blue for coming up with it!

Today, we're going to clear up the question of then vs. than. SassieCassie mentioned it as a question she had, and I see it misused ALL the time in papers written for me by students, so here is an explanation of how to use the words correctly:

THAN is a conjunction used to compare things:

She is older than her sister.

"Uh, "Richard David Kimble, vascular surgeon..." what the hell is that?" "Somebody that makes more money than you."

THEN is an adverb that describes time and time relationships:

I've got to run to the grocery store, then hurry home before the kids get off the bus.

Put on your snowpants first,
then pull on your boots.

Does that help?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Just Don't Get It.....

My public speaking class seems to be falling apart at the seams.

Yesterday’s class was a bit of a challenge. Of the thirteen students still taking the class, only eight showed up. Of those eight, only four were prepared to give the speech that was due for that class. One student got an extension because she, quite literally, had no voice. The rest of the unprepared students received zeros for the day. One young man had the nerve to kick up a fuss about this, but I directed him to the part in the syllabus that says “work is expected on the day it is due. Late work will not be accepted,” and he rather sheepishly backed down.

I find it interesting that, even as adults, students continue to push their instructors in these kinds of ways.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My! How Time Flies!!

I'm sitting here, organizing things for my public speaking class this morning, when I realized that, essentially, I have no classes left to teach.

Lemme 'splain. No, there is too much - lemme sum up (sorry - couldn't resist):

The course runs until December 11th (which is, coincidentally, Organic Mama's birthday). Anyway, there are four Mondays (including today) between now and December 11th. Today's class is scheduled to be a speech class - the students are supposed to have written a speech that includes the use of visual aids - so there will be precious little teaching on my part. Next Monday, th 27th, will either be a continuation of today's class, depending on how long today's speeches go, or the students will be delivering pursuasive speeches. On the 4th, I've got another guest speaker coming to class - I told you about her here - and I can't wait to see how the students react to her enormous personality. That brings us up to the 11th, which will be final exam / practical day, where I'm hoping to recruit a bunch of my friends and cohorts to act as an audience while the students deliver a short speech. They've gotten pretty comfortable talking in front of their classmates - I want to shake things up a bit and see how well they do in front of unfamiliar faces.

That's it! That's all we've got. No more lecture days, no time, really, to cover any new material.


I can't believe it. I feel like I still have so much to cover, though I recognize that I ALWAYS feel like that at the end of a class. I'm satisfied with the job I've done, though - we've kept up with the syllabus, the kids have gotten some good experience speaking in front of a group, they will have had some great guest speakers come to their class, and they have - at least, judging by their mid-term exam grades - a good grasp of the essential concepts of the class.

It's been a blast, and I'm hoping to get tapped to do it again next term.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Short Week

The girls have a two day school week coming up. I don't really remember ever having the day before Thanksgiving off before, but it makes perfect sense. SO many people travel for Thanksgiving that I guess the district just figured they'd give the day off rather than having a good percentage of the student body skip it anyway.

I'm SO looking forward to it. Five days of sleeping in! I don't have to drag the girls through morning routines so they can get to the bus on time - I get to be the mom who puts an extra blanket over the girls and says "snuggle back in and go back to sleep." Oh, bliss!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Pardon me while I choke to death over here!

I've been doing some research into getting my Ph.D. While I'm still not quite ready to take on the challenge yet, like a good doobie, I'm poking around, requesting catalogues, and looking at different options for programs.

Capella University was floated to me as a possibility. Organic Mama wants us to get our Ph.D.s together at this fully accredited, online university.

Yesterday morning, we were goofing around on the computer (when we SHOULD have been paying attention at a workshop about hybrid classes. For shame!) and found out just how much money a Ph.D. from Capella would cost.

I'm not over the shock yet.

If I'm looking at it correctly, we're talking about sixteen THOUSAND dollars a year, or thereabouts. SIXTEEN THOUSAND.

Holy Crap!

My beloved says that anyone who actually pays for their Ph.D. is doing something very wrong - that Ph.D.s should always be subsidized by an outside entity, whether that be a school, an employer, or a sponsoring organization.

So my question to you, Dear Readers, is this: Who do you think would be willing to pay for my Ph.D.? Because even if I were ready to start studying again, I sure as hell can't afford the asking price....

Friday, November 17, 2006

As If We Needed Outside Confirmation...

As we close up "Grammar Week" here at A Teacher's Education, I leave you with this*:


70 snob points (out of 100)

You have a mighty respect for the English language, and its tortuous misuse by the uneducated burns your soul. You can barely restrain yourself from grammatical vigilantism. You often find your friends pre-emptively apologizing for their language goofs, fearing your wrath, or at least merciless teasing.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on snobbery

Link: The Grammar Snob Test written by dbang

Check back for Grammar Wednesdays starting next week!

*found while searching for The Grammar Snob while I was goofing off at work.

More Grammar by Request!

You, Dear Readers, are making Grammar Week very easy for me; I haven't had to think up a topic for two days! Thank you for that!

Today’s sticky grammar question comes to us by way of Feather over at Tatterdemallion. She writes:

Ooh! Oooh! Lay/lie? I've had this explained to me several times by a fabulous teacher, but I am unable to make it stick in my mind. I blame Bob Dylan. I think I've got it, but then I start humming "Lay Lady Lay" and I begin to second doubt myself.

This is a tough one for a lot of people, and Bob Dylan isn't helping at all.

“Lay” means “to place”. It is a transitive verb, which is just a technical way of saying that it needs a direct object - there’s always something that receives the action of laying (yeah, yeah - I know what you’re thinking - knock it off):

“I laid my keys down on the table, but now they’re gone!”

“Lay the book on the counter while you put the cream in your coffee.”

"She plans to lay out the best china for Thanksgiving dinner."

“Lie” is an intransitive verb that means “to recline.” It doesn’t have a direct object:

“I have a headache. I’m going to lie down to see if it will go away on its own.”

“The fault lies in not knowing how to effectively manage your time.”

"If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

The trick I use? Try to replace the verb form with whatever tense of “place” works in the context. In above:

“I placed my keys down on the table, but now they’re gone” works.

“I have a headache. I’m going to place down to see if it will go away on its own” doesn’t.

Get it?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Grammar By Request!!

Derek, over at Eats Bugs (LOVE that blog title! Don't you?) asked that we clear up the whole feeling bad / feeling badly thing. He says:

My favorite grammatical conundrum comes from the word 'bad.' "I feel bad," as in emotions or health or sympathy; "I feel badly," as in my sense of touch is broken. Are either of these correct?

You've got it exactly right, Derek, and here's why:

The best way to figure out which form of the word "bad" to use is to figure out what, exactly, the word is modifying. In the sentence "I feel badly (about something - say, stepping on your toe)", for example, a lot of people think that badly is functioning as an adverb. It's got the "ly" ending, we're talking about how I feel, so it should be an adverb, right?

Well, no. As Derek correctly points out, we've got to clarify that we're not talking about the ability to feel but, rather, the quality of a sensibility. What we're really doing is modifying the actual feeling - the noun, the concept, the emotion - and not the act, or verb, of feeling. Adjectives modify nouns, so the correct form of the word is "bad." Saying that one feels badly is, as Derek illustrates above, saying that one's ability to feel is somehow impaired or broken, as in, "my uncle's stroke impairs his ability to feel. He feels badly and, as a result, burns himself a lot."

**author's note - while I love the graphic I've put up here, I'm annoyed that the second contraction isn't capitalized properly. I suspect that might be part of the joke, but I wanted you all to know - especially given the theme of this week's posts - that the error didn't sneak by me...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Since We're Already Halfway Through the Week...

...let's just call this a "grammar theme" week and run with it, shall we?

Because it's Wednesday, and everyone likes a chuckle on hump-day, I thought I might regale you with my favorite grammar joke. Ready?

A new freshman is wandering around the campus of Harvard, and he's good and lost. He makes a decent stab at finding where he wants to be, but eventually breaks down and stops a student to ask directions.

"Excuse me? Can you tell me where the library's at?" the freshman asks.

The upperclassman looks haughtily at the freshman and snobbily replies "Here at Hah-vard, we do not end our sentences in prepositions."

The freshman squares his shoulders and says "Alright, then; where's the library at, ASSHOLE!"

Happy Wednesday!

-Mrs. Chili

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

While We're at It...

...Let's clear up the whole adverb thing, too, shall we?

Adverbs are used to modify verbs. They describe, generally, how something is or is done. For example:

Robin paints very beautifully.

Very and beautifully are adverbs - "beautifully" modifies (describes) how Robin paints and "very" modifies beautifully.

Now, while it's not a hard-and-fast rule, most adverbs end in "ly." I'm astounded, and more than a little concerned, that there seem to be an awful lot of people who don't know that (or, being fair, it could just be that a lot of people simply don't care). I can't tell you how often I will be listening to something - the news, a t.v. show, people talking in the lobby of an office - and hear them drop the "ly" off the end of most of their adverbs:

"It all happened so quick, I didn't have time to react."

"I baked a cake last night, and it came out really nice."

"You did that perfect!"

It's particularly funny when Husband and I are together. We'll hear someone drop the "ly" off of an adverb, turn to teach other, and mouth "LEE!" It just makes us feel better because, you know, it's rude to correct the grammar of perfect strangers.

Now, lest you think I go around getting my jollies by making fun of other people's poor grammar - I don't. It makes me sad, more than anything else, to think that either they didn't get the attention they deserved in school or that they just don't care. We have a beautiful, complex language, and I'm concerned that, little by little, it's slipping out of the grasp of a lot of Americans.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mini Lesson

I spent most of yesterday watching football, and I’m appalled by the grammar of some people who make their living speaking on national television. Because of this, I’m inspired to offer up this little grammar mini-lesson. Let’s clarify this once and for all, shall we?

GOOD is an adjective used to describe a noun:

That was a good movie.

He is a good swimmer.

I had a good time on my vacation.

WELL is an adverb used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb:

He kicks the ball very well.

You would do well to listen to the advice of your elders.

How are you today? I am well, thank you.

Now, of course there are other uses of both words. One can do trade in particular goods. One can go to a well and bring up some water for cooking. In the way the words are USUALLY used in common American English, though, the examples I've pointed out above are the way to go.

Over the course of the Patriots game yesterday, I heard “he threw that good” and “he kicked that field goal really good.”

I just can’t stand it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How's This? Better?

This is what I'm going to give the Public Speaking kids tomorrow. I'm looking for input here, Dear Readers. Tell me what you really think - and tell me in time to edit before I print out 20 of them for tomorrow morning...


-Mrs. Chili

Listening Worksheet - Mr. White’s Speech

Answer these questions as notes during the speech. You will be expected to develop at least three or four of these questions into a comprehensive essay due next Monday, November 20th. See me if you have any questions or concerns.

1. What is the topic of the speech?

2. What is the purpose of the speech?

3. What specific methods of gaining your attention does the speaker use in the introduction? List as many as you can notice.

4. Does the speaker preview the main points of the speech in the introduction?

5. How many main points were developed in the speech? List them and describe how the points were organized in the body of the speech.

6. What rhetorical structures did the speaker use? List words the speaker used that stand out to you. How did the speaker use language to make you think, feel, or believe something?

7. Pay attention to transitions. How does the speaker move from one point to another?

8. Describe the speaker’s demeanor and personality. Does the speaker have any tics or idiosyncrasies that stand out for you? Do these add or detract from your enjoyment / understanding of the speech?

9. What pattern of organization did the speaker use? Was the speech chronological? Did the speaker deliver the speech like a story?

10. What visual aids, if any, did the speaker use? How did they fit in with the speech and what effect did they have on you as a listener?

11. Did the speaker noticeably cater the speech to suit this audience? Were you aware of any techniques the speaker used to reach you as an individual audience member?

12. How did the speech end? Describe the conclusion, noticing any elements that stand out for you.

13 What is the residual message of this speech? Did the speaker succeed in fulfilling the purpose of the speech? What do you think the speaker hopes you will do, think, or believe as a result of having heard this speech?

Piled Higher and Deeper

Somebody needs to stage an intervention because I’m seriously thinking about going for my Ph.D.

I’m not sure what it is that’s driving me toward this insanity. I just graduated with my Master’s in English teaching this past spring, and I remember all too well the hassle that was. Research. Reading (stuff I didn’t want to read). Writing (stuff I didn’t necessarily want to write). Making time for classes and study and don’t even get me started on all the checks I wrote to the university for the privilege of all that suffering.

Grad school was, for me, a lot like childbirth. It took a lot longer than I really wanted it to take. It hurt a lot more than I was expecting it would. There were a lot of hoops that needed to be jumped through, and not all of them made sense to me at the time (and a lot of them still don’t - I filled out papers at the hospital that I still don’t understand and I was required to do a lot for my degree that, to this day, I don’t think were the least bit relevant to what I understood I was doing). The overall impression of both processes is that they were both painful and very, very momentous. At the end of each, I ended up with something I desperately wanted, but I earned those things with time and sweat and effort and blood.

Not to mention patience. The people who love me (and not a few strangers who read my blogs) were saintly in their endurance of my bitching, whining, moaning and complaining about every little thing I went through. Sure, there were more than a few triumphs in the process, but most of it, it seems to me in hindsight, was just so much railing against the systems. My husband was wildly supportive, my children put up with a lot of my not being around, either because I was in classes or because I was doing homework. I asked a lot of the people who care about me while I was finishing my degree, and I think it might be asking too much to expect them to do it again so soon.

So, what the hell am I thinking?! Ph.D.?!? What on earth do I need THAT for? It’s not going to get me a better job. It’s not going to earn me more respect from my friends, family, peers, coworkers or students. It’s not going to make me a better person. So what is it that’s triggering that little voice in my head to spur me toward earning another degree?

Is it my tendency to overachieve? Is it a desire to ever improve myself? Is it just to prove that I can?

Whatever it is, somebody stop me, please.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

It's the Math That Got Me...

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Friday, November 10, 2006

Guest Speaking

I have a guest speaker coming to class on Monday.

At least, I HOPE he's coming.

We emailed back and forth for a bit on Tuesday, but I haven't heard from him since then and he never let me know either what he plans to speak about or when he plans to arrive, so it's going to be an interesting class. I'm going to put together a lesson plan so I can have something to fall back on if he either doesn't show or isn't there when class starts.

I intended all along to have the students see real people speaking in public, but I couldn't convince them to go out into the world to find public speaking events. Even with the utter crush of political speaking going on in our area recently, a handout from me of the schedule for a lecture series at our local university, a bunch of culture-related opportunities at a nearby museum, and the suggestion to just go to a church or a synagogue, the students never made the effort to go out and listen to a speech. So, I'm bringing the speeches to them.

I'm looking forward to having this first guest in class. He's charming and personable. He's confident and approachable. He is super knowledgeable about his subject and delivers his information in a way that is accessible and intriguing at the same time. Every time I’ve heard him speak, I’ve come away both knowing more than I did before I got there and itching to come back to learn even more.

I’ve taken all your advice to heart, Dear Readers, and am putting together a worksheet for the students to have in front of them while they listen to the speech. (I’m also trying very hard to spill all my wordiness here and not in emails to the students.) I want them to listen for content, to be sure, but I’m more interested in how well they can pick out the techniques that the speaker uses. I want to see if they can pick out rhetorical structures and strategies - how does the speaker use language to get his or her point across and how does word choice affect what the audience thinks or feels about what’s being said? I want them to get to the point of the speech - not only the main thesis of the talk, but also the intention of it. Was the purpose of the speech informative or persuasive? Commemorative or storytelling? What was the speaker trying to say?

I’ve got another speaker lined up for December. This woman is a friend of my in-laws’, which is interesting because this woman is a rabid democrat where my in-laws, well, aren’t. Anyway, this lady is effusive and glorious and loud and funny. She reminds me of a cross between Maya Angelou and Jo Anne Worley. She’s agreed to come to the class to talk - I’m sure she’ll speak about women’s issues or the political process or her years as a state senator. I don’t really care, though - I just want my students to be in her presence for a while. She just radiates outward, and I’m hoping that some of them - particularly my more shy girls - will be inspired.

I’ve got to sit down and figure out what I still have to teach the kids before the semester ends. If I have time, I might try to find one other person to come and speak to the class before we tie it all up in the middle of December.

Any volunteers?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What a Piece of Work is Man...


No, really. Wow.

This show was AMAZING. It was also a lot bigger than I originally thought which was good because we attended the exhibit with a SHIT LOAD of high school students, many of whom were in possession of some extremely bad manners. But anyway...

I was fascinated by this exhibit on many different levels. For starters, it's just dumbfounding. To live inside your own skin is one thing - to feel what you feel and to know that there's more to you than just what you can see; to feel your heart beat and to breathe in and out and to stretch or to experience pain or to be still and quiet and just BE is one thing. To actually SEE what's under your skin is something else entirely.

I have always been intensely curious about what makes up my body. I always want to see my own x-rays and MRIs. While I may get a little woozy watching the initial incision, I am glued to the t.v. when watching programs or news segments about medical procedures - hip replacements and bypass surgery and the like (though I shy away from plastics procedures - not sure why, but they gross me out). I want to understand what all the results for my chem. panels mean and I ask my doctor to explain my cholesterol levels and how any medications they prescribe to me work. This exhibit satisfied that curiosity in a way that was at the same time immensely satisfying and insanely frustrating. I left knowing that I'd seen more than I'd ever seen before but still wanting to see MORE.

Being a fitness instructor, I have at least a passing familiarity with how we humans are put together. I understand, in very basic terms, how this muscle is connected to that bone, how this muscle works with / against that muscle to move us in particular ways, and how to effectively and safely challenge those muscles to do their best work and keep us as healthy as possible. This exhibit brought that knowledge a little bit closer to comprehensive in me - it was far more complete and understandable to see the muscles as they actually are - connected here and there, layered over these bones and these underlying muscles - than any drawing, however correct, could ever be.I was surprised by a lot of things. I had a lot of false impressions about the human frame. I thought that our femur was a lot thicker than it actually is, for example. I was under the impression that there were a lot more bones in the ankle than there actually are. I did not know that there are bands of something - I'm not sure what, though I expect it's cartilage - correct me if you know, please - that encircle our wrists and ankles to hold back bands of nerves. I thought our spinal cord was a lot thicker than it is. Seeing these things in 3D, unchanged from their original form but for their preservation, was enlightening.

We are AMAZING creatures. Bone and blood and muscle and nerve and fat and tendon and skin - I have to admit that it would be difficult to look at this exhibit and not believe that we were intelligently created. I believe in evolution, I truly do - I’m not an Adam and Eve kind of gal - but there's got to be a plan behind it. We had to start somewhere, and to get to where we are - a marvel of systems and balance and motion - is nothing short of miraculous.
I've heard that there's a lot of controversy around this exhibit. I haven’t read any of it, so I can’t comment intelligently about it one way or another, but I have to say here that I found nothing at all objectionable to the show. The bodies are donated willingly - no body was taken without its OWNER’S permission; I couldn’t donate my husband, for example, without his living consent, though I’m not sure how the children in the exhibit were obtained. There’s nothing lewd or unseemly about the bodies - they’re posed tastefully and in ways that really demonstrate the wonder of machinery that our bodies are (though the high school kids were all about the plasticized penises and labia). There’s no preachiness in the exhibit; though there were a fair number of smoker’s lungs and a display of what obesity does to the internal organs, neither of these elements was presented in anything other than a factual way. In short, it is (as far as my non-medically educated self could tell) a very well done, ethically responsible display.

The exhibit opens with a mural that explains that there’s no personal information about the donors - their names and causes of death are never mentioned - because it’s not about the people they used to be. Honestly, I never found myself thinking of the people these bodies used to be though, at the end, I did send up a silent prayer of thanksgiving to them for offering up their physical selves so that I could experience this unique opportunity to see under the surface.

My friend mentioned that she knows someone who is entirely opposed to this exhibit because she finds it morbid and somehow disrespectful to the donors. I’m not sure I could disagree more. For me, a person ceases to be a person when their heart stops beating and the spirit/body connection is broken. I’ve thought about this a lot - I think it’s interesting that we refer to our bodies as something we own - MY arm or MY head - rather than something we ARE. I am not my body. I can change my hair or lose my sight or amputate an arm or donate a kidney and I’d still be me. I remember thinking of a connection to a Star Trek series - Next Generation - where the Klingon on board informed crew mates to dispose of a fallen comrade’s body however they saw fit because, as he put it, “it is just an empty shell.” A very intricate, complex, and wondrous shell, but without the spirit, empty nonetheless.

If this exhibit ever comes within striking distance of you, I HIGHLY recommend you go see it, even if you’re faint-of-heart. It’s not icky, it’s not creepy, and it’s in no way gratuitous. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll come away with a much greater appreciation for the bag of water and protein that houses your soul for this journey.

Going on a Field Trip

I'm going on a field trip with a friend today. We're heading to the Museum of Science in Boston to see this:

I'll write about it when I get back tonight.

Stay with your chaperone and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!

-Mrs. Chili

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Cheer and a Nudge and a Push and a Shove...

I had lunch today with an old and dear friend. I've known this man for more than 20 years now; he is very special to me and an important part of my everyday life.

This friend, though very smart, was never highly motivated. He never did much that required a whole lot of overt effort on his part - he never nurtured a skill or pursued a passion - and this is something about his personality that has always bothered me, even when we were younger. His characteristic attitude was a shrug and an offhanded, noncommittal "eh," and I always wanted more from him because he's so capable of more.

As we sat together over lunch this afternoon, he admitted to me that he's thinking about going to college. Just like that. He looked up from his salad and said, "I'm thinking about going to school."

I managed to not leap up from the table and dance for joy, though that was my first reaction. I could see from his demeanor that this is something that he's not quite made up his mind to do, and I didn't want to scare him off of it - jumping up and down while squealing like a girl would likely not be the kind of encouragement he was looking for from me. What I DID do was to congratulate him on this kind of thinking and to offer up any - ANY - assistance that I can render to make the process easier and less intimidating for him.

He is concerned - and rightly, I think - with the fact that he'll likely find himself in classes with people much younger than himself. Having gone to college as an adult, I can totally relate to the feelings that go along with that: even as an undergrad, I had a good ten years on most of my classmates - while they were nattering on about which party to go to that night, I was thinking about how to juggle homework with housework with real work. It can be a very alienating thing to be the only grown-up, aside from the professor, in the classroom, but there can also be great advantages to that. You're not worried about which party to go to - all that petty, insignificant stuff doesn't get in the way of your studies. You're likely far more organized and diciplined and, as a result, have an easier time meeting deadlines and fulfilling commitments. You bring a wealth of experience to the classroom, and your professors are going to LOVE you for that - at least, most of mine did - and, not lastly, you've got friends who've gone through this whole college thing before and can help you through the tricky bits.

I'm very, very excited for my friend, and I've offered to help him in any way that I can, from walking through the admissions process to proofreading papers to tutoring services. I'm hoping he takes me up on it...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In My Own Defense

I'm not the only one who thinks this way....

"In my house, anyone who uses one word when they could have used ten just isn't trying hard. Let's keep at it."

Quoted from Season Three, Dead Irish Writers, of the West Wing.

This May Be More Than They Can Handle...

I sent this note (letter) to my public speaking class last night. Do you think any of them will understand what I'm asking, or should I learn to be more concise....?

Dear Class:
For this week's online portion of class, you need to do two things: First, read chapters 11 and 12 in your text and answer the study questions on Blackboard. Please put them in the digital drop box rather than emailing them to me - I won't be responsible for losing assignments that get sent to my personal email. If you still can't figure the digital drop box out, make an appointment with the IT people on the main campus and they'll help you. You all understand that not handing in homework is a double-whammy, right? You get a zero for the assignment AND you get marked as absent for that "class." Just making sure you're all aware....

The second part of the week's homework will involve your planning out the next speech. This will be delivered with the use of visual aids, so you need to choose a topic (please keep it college-appropriate) and work out a strategy for how best to include props, graphs and other visual elements into your speech. I would suggest reading chapter 13, which covers the use of visual aids in a speech (doing this will make next week's deliverable easier, too, since chapter 13 is next on the list of things to do). I'm going to ask you to do some sort of outline or preliminary sketch so that I can see where your planning is leading you. Please clearly map out, in which ever way you feel works best for you, your introduction, body and conclusion in a way that illustrates to me that you're giving it a lot of thought and are being as comprehensive as you can be. Let's put a bit more work into it than you gave me last time, shall we? Many of you either didn't do it at all or did such a quick job of it that it was a challenge for me to give you credit for the work.

Finally, we're having a guest speaker come to class on Monday. Tom White is the Educational Outreach Coordinator for Holocaust Studies at Not-So-Local University. Please be respectful and arrive to class on time - a little early might even be better.

While I want you to enjoy the topic of the speech, I'm particularly interested in how well you can discern the structure of Mr. White's talk. Take notes as you listen, paying attention to the language he uses, where you notice transitions, what techniques he uses to draw you in and hold your attention, and how he uses facts, figures, quotations, and stories. Notice not only the topic of Mr. White's presentation, but the specific purpose of the speech, as well. What pattern of organization does he use? What do you notice about the flow of the speech? Thinking back to the "news story" exercise (the one that dealt with two different versions of a Dennis Rodman incident), pay particular attention to the rhetorical structures that Mr. White uses. How does he use language to influence your thinking? Does he use visual aids? If so, what are they intended to do within the context of the speech?

I will ask you to focus on two or three of these questions and to write an in-depth analysis of the speech in an essay for me, due a week from Monday. As I explained in class, I'm not crazy about assigning minimum page lengths for essays, so I'm not going to say "it needs to be this many pages long." What it DOES need to be is comprehensive, thoughtful, and well-written. Don't just parrot back bits of the speech to me - use quotes, certainly, but use them to illustrate the point you're making in the essay. Take some risks here; stretch your thinking beyond what you feel safe doing and really work your way through this assignment.

I know it seems like I've given you a lot, but if you look at it you'll see that it's just because I'm wordy and feel the need to explain everything in excruciating detail. Feel free to contact me at this email address if you have any questions about any of this. I'm fairly free this week and can meet with any of you if you feel the need to sit down and work this through.


-Mrs. Chili

Rereading this, I think an intervention might be in order...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Busy Day!

I had quite an eventful day at work today!

I subbed the Lit. class for my colleague and had a lovely time of it. The class was a little off balance, I think, at the thought of having a sub - I'm not sure they knew what to think of me as I confidently strolled in and started teaching ("what?! Subs don't TEACH!"). It took me a while to get them to actually start participating in class, though - there weren't a whole lot of people willing to talk to me ("No, no, kids - you don't understand - I'm not asking rhetorical questions up here! What do you know about poetry?) but, once they did, the class went really well. I walked them through most of the lesson plans that my coworker left for me - I may have left something out here and added something she didn't include there, but the overall effect was pretty much the same. I learned that I have to brush up on my mastry of poetic forms; I should be able to spit out AT LEAST the rules for Shakespearean sonnets (I can recite a few of them by heart - and did so, much to the eye-rolling horror of the class - but I can't explicate the form with any certainty).

Something interesting happened in the class, though, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. When the actual class started, I handed out the Calvin and Hobbes you see above (click on it for a larger, more easily readable view)- I love to start classes or, at least, new units with comics. As the morning wore on, students dribbled in here and there from the hallway. By the time break rolled around, the class had increased by about 75%, so I told all the kids who didn't have a comic to come up to see me before they left for break so I could list them on the attendance sheet. The strange part, though, was that a BUNCH of those kids never came back. WTF? Do you think that I'm not going to NOTICE? Do you think I'm not going to bust you for it? Uh - I don't think so. Just before class was over, while they were working on their journal entries, I went around to the remaining students and checked them off again. Then, after class, I went to the registrar's office to ask them to dock the kids who showed up late and left early. I'll be damned if I'll let students take advantage of me like that. They don't know me very well, do they?

My public speaking class went pretty well, though I was, in all honesty, expecting a mutiny. I pulled a fast one on them and I felt bad about it, even though I was justified in doing what I did. I'd told them, last Monday, that there would be a quiz today. While I was writing the quiz this weekend, though, I realized that we're just about at mid-term, so I added about half again as many questions and turned the quiz into an exam. They whined and protested when I told them this morning that I'd upped the ante without warning them first, but I assured them that the exam wasn't hard at all and promised that I'd reconsider the whole thing if they bombed.

I'm happy to tell you that NONE of them bombed!! The lowest score was an 82!! I'm THRILLED for them, and I'm not afraid to let them know it. Congratulatory emails are going out when I'm done with this post.

The last bit I have to tell you about today is that I saw that one of the two girls from my Foundations class who did the work I asked them to do - and saved herself from a failing grade - was in the class that's held in my room immediately after my class clears out. Before I left, I did my sternest "YOU! Come over here now, please!" Her face fell and she started to get all defensive, and when my face broke and I told her how pleased and happy I was that she'd done so well and how proud I was of her effort, she nearly burst with the smiling.

I love my job.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Substitute Teaching

I've agreed to sub for another instructor at TCC tomorrow morning. She was hoping for a long weekend to go biking in a neighboring state and needed someone to cover two of her classes. Since my Foundations class is over, I could take her morning class, and she sent me the lesson plans for it last night.

She's starting a unit on poetry tomorrow, and I'm really excited about the prospect of teaching an introductory lesson. While poetry isn't my MOST favorite thing to teach - I'm still not 100% certain of all the rules and the meters and all - I'm confident enough in what I DO know to have a really good time with it. The thing I love most is disabusing students of their notions that poetry is somehow "above" them, that all "good" poetry has already been written, and that poetry has to be a highly formal exercise. Convincing students that they can write GOOD poetry about a carburetor or about stubbing their big toe or about watching a cat sleep - and having them come to believe me by actually DOING those things - is one of the great joys of teaching.

One of the things I love to do with poetry classes is to come up with limericks and haiku on the fly. Both forms of poetry are highly accessible - their rules are simple and their rhythms almost instinctual - and, once we get past the "there was an old man from Nantucket" crap, the exercise turns up some really great, often hysterically funny stuff. I went on a limerick-writing frenzy a while back, and wrote pieces about waffles, excentric old women and an ill-advised marriage - I can still recite the waffle effort. Vanx did a bit about haiku back in the spring, and I answered his challenge with pieces about Syracuse basketball, snow days, and my sleeping children. Whipping up "real" poetry off the cuff is a great way to illustrate to students that the genre is not the sole property of the past.

Since I'll only be teaching the one class, though, I won't be able to get to the part of teaching poetry that REALLY matters to me - the idea that poetry means whatever it means to the student. There is no right interpretation to a poem, and we're supposed to filter every piece through our own experiences and beliefs to come up with a meaning that works for us as individuals. I'm still working through this idea with my own children - my eldest, in particular, is interested in what things mean and wants to know "the answer." She's still struggling with the idea that SHE gets to decide what the poem (or the song, or the story) means. Once she works that out, though, she's going to find that the entire literary world just opens up for her, and she can mine it for all it's worth. That's what I want my academic kids to learn, too. Poetry belongs to them, if they can only work up enough courage to approach it with a sense of authority and a willingness to work their own selves into the words.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

jeff dunham peanut

At least I don't teach the classics in Alabama!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Professional Development

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Professional Development Coordinator at TCC. In it, she asked all the instructors to submit copies of all the work they've done under the heading of professional development, so she can keep track of what everyone's doing.

Part of me thinks this is strange. In order to teach at TCC, one doesn't have to hold a teaching certification. If one doesn't have to hold a teaching certification, one shouldn't need to continue with professional development credits to maintain that certification. I mean, I understand that TCC would be interested in having its instructors actively involved in the continuation of their own learning, but it doesn't seem to me that, given the lack of certification, professional development could be considered essential to keeping one's job.

Of course, this is all academic (heh) for me because I DO hold a state certification that I DO want to keep up even though I'm not teaching in an environment that requires it. I have professional development certificates I can submit to the coordinator, and I went around this afternoon collecting them all in one place so I can photocopy them to deliver when I'm back on TCC campus on Monday.

What I didn't realize, though, is that all my professional development hours - all 20 of them so far this year - have involved Holocaust studies. Any more that I take are likely to continue that trend - there are a couple of workshops being held at the Center for Holocaust Studies that I really want to attend.

I'm not sure what this means, if it means anything, really. It's a topic that interests me, that I can mine for a lot of material to use in an English class, and I mean, come on - there's no WAY I can learn everything there is know about it.

I wonder, though - is there a requirement to HOW one earns one's professional development credits. Do I have to diversify?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Final Reckoning

I’m handing in the grades for my Foundations class this morning on my way home from my chiropractor appointment. In the final counting, just under half of the students failed the course.

When I factored in all the lab work that DID get done, I ended up with 7 out of 17 students with scores below the 60% necessary to pass. I’m sure, at some point, I’ll get into a whole, long sermon about what I think about 60% being a passing grade, but I just don’t have it in me to fight that particular battle at the moment. Suffice to say that I don’t think that getting the right answer once more than half the time constitutes sufficient skill, in college OR real life. I’m pretty sure - though I’d have to ask my mathematically inclined friends - that you can beat that percentage just by guessing.

What I’m really tripping about is the fact that - against my better judgment and contrary to what I stated at the outset of the course - I gave the students until last night to finish the lab work they owed me - and damned near NONE of them did it. If more of the students had actually availed themselves of that opportunity - only two did - many more would have passed. As it was, the two that went back and did the work they needed to do managed to squeak OUT of failing; they brought their grades up over the requisite 60% and, as a result, don’t have to do this again. The rest of them? Don’t sell your book back to the bookstore just yet, kids - it’s going to come in handy in 12 weeks when the new English term starts up again.

So! What did *I* learn while teaching this class? Well, I learned - or, rather, had reconfirmed for me - that this is definitely what I want to do. I had a BLAST. I love the job and really want to keep doing it. I also learned that going back on my hard-ass deadline-or-die policy is a bad idea. The work is due when it’s due, period. If I don’t have it when I asked for it, it may not be handed in later. Tracking down all the different labs that people owed me the night before grades were due was just exhausting, and I’m not interested in doing that again. Finally, I learned that, even if I can’t reach EVERYONE, I can reach a few. I really connected with at least two - possibly three - students in the class. I TAUGHT them something. Light bulbs went off. There’s little that’s more satisfying than seeing the proverbial light dawn.

It’s a high, and I’m an addict.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Outside Confirmation

Last week, a professor at TCC popped unexpectedly into my public speaking class. She settled herself in and watched a student give a speech, listened while we gave that student some feedback, took a few notes and left.

I thought it was odd that she should do this - I didn't know she was coming and she never spoke to me about it either during or after the class. It then occurred to me that she may be the advisor for the student giving the speech - she showed up just as he began and left as soon as he was finished. Yes, I thought to myself, that must be it.

As it turns out, she was there looking at ME. This morning, I got this email:

Hi, Mrs. Chili. I very much enjoyed observing your Effective Communication class. You modeled respect and good listening skills for your students. Your concentration on their speeches was quite focused. I was also impressed with the quality of your constructive criticism and the positive reinforcement that you meted out. The notes on the board about constructive criticism were also especially useful, and of course, were good for visual learners. In addition, your students gave good, thoughtful feedback and appeared to welcome the classroom interaction. Finally, your positive, high energy delivery is obviously effective. Keep up the good work, and feel free to contact me for more feedback. Thanks also for sharing your class with me.

Of course, I feel pretty good about this review, though I'm curious to find out what "more feedback" she has to offer. When I email her back to thank her for her comments and invite her, anytime, into my class, I'll ask what else she noted that she didn't mention in the email.

Based on this, I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll be offered new classes to teach next term. I'm glad of it - I'm really enjoying this job.