Fieldnote, 4 Sept. 2014

More of a day note, the day that I think I learned more about my teaching after a long time of teaching. One of those refresher days. One of those recharge days. 

To begin I started with the drive from Louisville to Lexington, with only slight traffic along the interstate because of construction. No accidents this day, unlike most days. I didn’t know the room to Bill’s class, and I was worried about this, and I even tried sending a message to Brian before class on Twitter to see if he had any ideas. He would also be teaching a meeting of the course in the near future. He had no idea. Maybe email one of the students on the roll? How would that sound to ask about where we’re meeting because the professor has no clue?

I ended up asking Sarah about where to head to before the class met at 9:30. I made my way to the Little Library computer lab. This is the lab I promoted my course in before with Rachel’s permission. The computers are also attached to keyboards. It’s a music class as well I reasoned. 

They were graduate students. Some M.A. students, some Ph.D.s. They studied literature by and large, linguistics, and creative writing. That was expected. We discussed three articles, by Berlin, Villanueva, and Jordan. The students formed into groups and each covered an article. As they discussed, I roamed around fielding questions and talking to groups. After 20 minutes, we came back together. 

With the Berlin article, the students discussed some of the article’s main points about rhetorical history. They critiqued the notions of periodization, they also asked what school WRD fell into. I asked the students what they thought about this. They are involved in deploying the curriculum as instructors after all. New Rhetoric or expressive rhetoric? They questioned one another. I stepped away, but not before mentioning the publication date of Berlin’s 1982 article, and also the Digital Studies in the name of our department. 

The Villanueva group instantly critiqued the style of the article. They also had questions about the author’s anecdotal evidence of microagressions in his everyday life to support his arguments. He describes two narratives: one of a meeting with his daughter’s principal and a heated faculty meeting discussing multiculturalism to make points about institutional racism. He also mixes genres and languages. They agreed it was a hard text, but they liked it. They also said they would like to write like it.

The last group was discussing Jordan. When I caught up to them they were having a debate about caricatures. I had to step in, though, and ask them about this sense of linguistic identity or misidentity and how it related in the argument put forth at the end of the article in Black English. Jordan’s students write a letter to the police of the city who allegedly murdered the brother of one of her students. The students who had studied composing Black English the entire semester used the opportunity to express themselves in their language. Students’ right to their own language. The results were that their letter was ignored by both press and the cops.

 We came together as a class at the end, and we discussed and tried to connect articles. It was a quick discussion at the end. I also introduced them to the Rhet Map and the NCTE homepage and journals. A quick class, but fun discussion. 

Then the two composition classes. We discussed news sources and connecting Instagram to WordPress blogs–also how to embed videos to blogs. Then the students formed groups of three and explored news sources. They discussed articles. Again, I walked around to ask students questions, and also cover any issues with the blog and using Instagram. 

After the two classes, I headed over to the library to volunteer for an hour. I helped a six-year-old girl and then two twin 12-year-old brothers. The brothers were accompanied by their mother who observed the entire interaction as we discussed math and writing. It was a quick lesson. I gave the mother an information sheet about the library study as well as my card. She sounded interested in the study.

I headed back to the university in terrible traffic to be in time for the Black and Latino Male Initiative BLMI meeting. I had the surveys ready, but they needed copies. We had that figured out. and we had a discussion in small groups about dreams and ethics. I was in a group that also discussed class and privilege and what it meant to be a working student. Toward the end of the meeting I distributed the survey to approximately 20 guys. I received back about 4. Kahlil will work on getting more of those out I hope.