Week 3 of Graduate School and Teaching Comp

[Houston friend Jaylotus just switched over to using his given name as his music moniker. Celebrate with me by listening to the rerechristened Philippe Edison]


I think it’d be difficult to top my daily ride to and from campus wherein I see a myriad of maple trees all in different states of changing from green to yellow to orange then red and soon to a bareness that’ll function as harbinger for winter. WR 121 is going well despite frequent absences from students. I am sometimes uncertain as to whether I should follow up with the ones who are absent more frequently, but I hope that my tri-weekly emails make it clear that they should be in class more often than not.

There are three books that the students should be reading regularly plus a reference book that could be useful if they, you know, referenced it. Additionally there are three assignments in the class that the students are meant to complete within the ten weeks of the quarter with each tackling entirely different aspects of writing (A synthesis essay followed by a meta-research paper and then an argumentative paper about the topic of their second paper). With all that going on, I’m uncertain as to how much time to give each thing on a class by class basis, but after discussions with several of the Comp Assistants and the program director I’ve decided to give myself a break on trying to sort it all out immediately.

It feels good to do so. For now I’m using the template lesson plans (with the unfortunate name ‘Frankenplan’) and adjusting them only as I see necessary. At first I had determined to use it exactly as it described, but I think I’m already learning to rely on my instincts and trust that I might know what will be most beneficial to my students in achieving the objectives outlined for us. And so far it’s been panning out pretty okay. My students are rarely nodding off or inattentive and some who were the most resistant have now become the most vocal.

There are still issues when it comes to people turning in assignments or not performing to the level I believe they can achieve, but I figure that’s part of my job. I should give what is reasonable of myself to them and hope that they can meet me at a midpoint so as not to leave feeling like a complete dumbass.

This week was a significant turning point for another reason as well though. I finally got down all my student’s names and it seems that they really appreciate me calling them in that way over having a finger pointed at them or being called ‘You.’ It’s something that I knew I had to pick up on after observing one of my peers who has had immense teaching experience and seeing the ease with which his class interacted with him and offered their opinions without fear of reproach both due to using their names as well as a cynical earnestness about the class texts.

My own classes continue to go well and although the demons of lethargy still summon me, I’m giving it all I got so that I don’t sink into old habits of Youtube blackholes, napping and cocktails at 5 every day. I like myself better when I’m doing my work. All the guilt I used to feel when I wasn’t given a class my full focus is currently non-existent. I’m trying to form my own challenges while here and seeing how I can get the most out of this Rhetoric degree. Looking at the people in my department and some back home and in Houston who have accomplished so much fills me with optimism for the influence an individual can have on improving the world by increments. I want to be lashed in the face by hurricane winds as I walk into its eye where tranquility pervades and I hope to only reach it when I die. As long as I’m feeling the stings of brambles and my nose is running, I’ll know I’m alive. #Cheesinessisnexttogoodliness


2 thoughts on “Week 3 of Graduate School and Teaching Comp

  1. When I first started teaching at OSU last year, someone told me, “You learn more your first term than you actually teach your students.” That turned out to be so true – not because I didn’t teach them anything, but because the amount I learned (and am still learning) about what it means to teach far encompassed any amount of rhetoric or thesis statement knowledge I might have managed to pass on to them. I think there’s something to be said for letting some of that learning come slowly, and not feeling like you have to get it all right all at once. Sometimes you can choose one particular thing you really want to get right, and then the next class period/term you can choose something else, and slowly it all builds up. But realizing that the process has to take time can definitely take some of the pressure off.

    Also, those Vine images are beautiful.

    1. Thank you for the comforting words, Kaely. I’ll try to go about one class and skill at a time.

      Also, it is ridiculous the amount of times I rode along the path to do it some justice.

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