Today is the first day of class at Whitworth, so I thought I’d share my first day activities. This year, I adapted Liv Mariah Yarrow’s opening day questionnaire as a way of getting to know my students. They answered the following questions on a handout and shared their responses to the bolded prompts:
- Preferred name
- Pronunciation guide (E.g.: Buh-RAH-hoss)
- Preferred pronouns (feel free to share!)
- I am from…
- It is my __________ year at Whitworth.
- Majors I’m considering:
- In ten years I hope to be…
- My biggest time commitment outside of school is…
- I like to read…
- My favorite book/poem/play/text is…
I was fascinated by all of my students’ answers, but especially their answers for #8–even at a small private liberal arts school, we can never assume that our students have no responsibilities outside of their classes. A number of my students have leadership positions on campus, many volunteer in their communities, and at least half of the students in my first class also work. I’m looking forward to getting to know these students as the semester progresses; for now, I’m thankful for this glimpse into their lives beyond my classroom.
The second activity we did was a values affirmation exercise. I asked students to consider a list of values (e.g.: bravery, compassion, empathy, grace, integrity, etc.) and circle the three which they consider to be the most important. They then shared their choices with a partner and discussed how they have tried to practice those values in their daily life. Eventually, the class came together as a group to share our common values and draft a course contract with statements expressing how we can practice those values in class. At the end of class, we had produced a list of common values and practices which will help to guide class discussion and conduct throughout the semester. Here’s an example:
The finished contract will be signed by all students and myself and posted on our course website. It is my hope is that this exercise helps to develop a sense of community between my students–by sharing their values and agreeing to practices which display those values, they are making the classroom a safe and welcoming space for thinking, learning, growing, and, yes, making memes.
I’m happy to share any/all of the activities listed above, if anyone is interested. If you have any suggestions for community-building first-day activities, comment below!
It’s been a minute, but I’m back to blogging! My first semester as a tenure-track Assistant Professor starts on September 5th, and it can’t come soon enough! I’ll be taking part in a number of back-to-school activities in the coming weeks, including a new faculty dedication ceremony in the University Chapel which will almost certainly reduce me to tears. This is my fifth year teaching as instructor of record at the university level, but I still feel the same excitement I felt on my first day as a TA back in 2011. I can’t wait to meet my new students and colleagues and truly become a part of the Whitworth community.
In the mean time, I thought I’d share syllabi for the two literature courses I’ll be teaching this semester. Click on the link to download a copy of the syllabus; a detailed course schedule can be found at the end of both documents.
EL 207: British Literature to 1800 is the first part of our British literature survey. In news that will surprise no one, the first seven weeks of this 12-week class are dedicated to medieval literature. The syllabus ends about a hundred years early with Paradise Lost.
EL 247: Shakespeare is…exactly what it sounds like. I’ve divided the course into generic units on the tragedies, histories, and comedies. I really wanted to include some of the narrative poetry, but I just don’t have time.
I’m really excited about teaching both of these courses. I’m also teaching one section of Writing I, and I’ll share that syllabus soon. If you have any thoughts on these syllabi, or any advice on my first year, please comment below!
Yesterday was last day of the Spring semester (for me, at least), which means that today is the first day of SUMMER. It’s hard to believe another academic year has come and gone; it’s especially hard to believe that it’s been almost a year and a half since I began work on my dissertation. My second chapter has been really difficult–more difficult than my first chapter by far. I’m planning to enter the job market next fall, so this summer needs to be a productive one, dissertation-wise. I’m traveling to Kalamazoo for the ICMS next week (!!!) and London for the NCS Congress in July, but other than that, I am dedicating this summer to work. To that end, I made a list of concrete goals for Summer 2016:
- Finish chapters 2 and 3. My dissertation has three “body” chapters; I plan to have drafts of the final two ready for my advisors by the end of the summer. I’m enrolled in a 3-week intensive writing workshop next month, and I’m not sure if I should use it to finish my second chapter (which I’ve been struggling with since January) or if I should use it to start work on the third. I’m not sure I’m ready to enter the intensive writing phase for the third chapter, honestly. But maybe that’s just an excuse! Any advice is welcome.
- Revise chapter 1 (again). Regardless of what order I write them in, once I’m done with the second and third chapters, I want to return to the first with fresh eyes, and see if any new connections can be made.
- Finish job market materials. This semester I took a class dedicated to preparing job market materials: cover letter, teaching philosophy statement, dissertation abstract, etc. I’ve got strong drafts of each of those documents, and I want to use this summer to make them stronger. I’m a pretty anxious person naturally, and I want to be as prepared as possible for the horrors that undoubtedly await me in the fall.
There you have it: Summer ’16. Let’s go!
It’s a busy time of the year in Austin. Spring break started yesterday, and the South By Southwest music festival begins tomorrow, so the city is full distractions. I’ve been making an effort to get to the coffee shop by 9 so I can get a few hours of work in before heading out in search of live music. I’ve got a chapter due by the end of the semester, so I’m hoping to use this break to get the bulk of it done. If you’ve got any good writing vibes to send my way, I’d appreciate it!
My first conference of the summer will be the Middle Ages in the Modern World conference at the University of Lincoln. I attended this conference when it was held at the University of St. Andrews in the summer of 2013, and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a conference experience so much. I’ll be presenting in Panel 3C–Medievalism and the Modern Novel–on Wednesday, 1st July from 3 to 4:30. My paper will focus on Paul Kingsnorth’s novel The Wake, and will explore modern understandings of 1066 and the Anglo-Saxon relationship to nature.
I’ll also be attending the International Medieval Congress at Leeds for the second time, and I’m very much looking forward to reconnecting with friends and learning from colleagues from across the world. I’ll be presenting in panel 801–More Than A Feeling?: Anglo-Saxons on Emotions–on Tuesday, 7th July from 4:30 to 6. My paper, “‘The Work Of Giants’: Nationalism and Nostalgia in the Old English Ruin” stems from research conducted while writing my dissertation. Please do come by if you’ll be in Leeds!