Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting Ready for Day Two

Just a quick note as I go into day two.

While reading the course material and the supporting material for this course I came to a harsh realization:

Over in Budapest, I was out in the composition-studies wilderness.

Until last year I only had access to embargoed journals and some dated texts. The only change I made last year was to join NCTE. That got me access to 2 up-to-date journals. It didn't exactly plug me into everything that's going on in the discipline. Now that I'm reading the student and teacher resources we have here at Davis, it's like I've traveled through time.

Reading our handbook has been an eyeopener.

For instance, the concept audience awareness has been made so much more accessible and easy to understand. The material I was working with framed this idea as more of an abstraction.

And then I read the list of the top 20 errors made by US college students today... Just that such a list has been compiled has me awed, but our text goes on to explain what kind of misstep a student is making when the errors get on the page. It's great stuff. If my students take advantage of this, I think it will make a huge difference in their work.

The challenge for me is to make these resources interesting for UWP1 students.

Of course I'm into it all; my area of study is making great strides. That is exciting for me, naturally. But how to convey that excitement is what I have to work on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Morning of Day 1

This is my first Stateside post. I will no longer be Hogs in Budapest. As you may have noted above, I am now Hogs in Davis.

Here you will find the blog post I was asked to write in the days leading up to my first day teaching the University Writing Program 1 course, expository writing.

Of course I wrote it the morning of my first class. Some habits are hard to break.

Today is an odd combination of the familiar and the foreign.

The past few years at CEU Business School, and the years before that at
McDaniel College Budapest both help to make first days feel old hat.

There are, however, several things that have me nervous.
It's a good nervous. The same kind I got when I was an actor in high school theater productions. The kind of nervous that makes me focus. But the source of those nerves is new.

I haven't worked with UC students in years.

I haven't taught a course built by someone else.

I haven't copied my handouts yet... okay, that's nothing new. I am going to have to work on having materials ready earlier, but that has always dogged me.

New students always get my blood going. I want to make a good impression, but I don't want to be that instructor who looks to be trying. That's the result of working with first year students; it's a age group deeply concerned with their environment's level of cool. I want to walk the line that gets me the respect of a friendly authority. I know how to do that in Hungary. I think some of those skills will transfer. We'll see.

The other thing that got me out of bed early was the question about how to make this class my own. Using Dana's syllabus is great because I get to try some new things, but I did develop a classroom rhythm while in Hungary. I hope I can cover everything without looking like I'm reading cue cards.

Well, I've got to go make some copies and get to class.