Unplanned Lessons: Using/Losing your Voice

Well, I survived the first week of the Spring Semester. I am always surprised by the busyness and the newness of the first week of classes. I started this week feeling so prepared. I was ready to teach them all sorts of things. Turns out, they come to class and I am the one learning lessons. 

Funny how that happens. 

I teach English Composition at a local Community College, so I meet students of all ages and disciplines. For some, they feel they already know how to write. Others feel forced to take my class in order to fulfill a requirement. This is my second semester here, in all honesty, my fall classes were rough. I mean, the toughest I've ever had. Back in December, I was so happy to turn in final grades and wash my hands of the whole thing. But, as January approached, I found myself wanting to try it again. And right now, I'm feeling slightly smarter about it. 

A lot of my class revolves around the students reading and producing work that we can then discuss and rewrite. I love leading discussions because the focus is not on me. And it allows everyone the chance to be heard AND to learn to really listen to what's happening in the room. The second one is a surprisingly difficult task for most adult learners. I think my job has less to do with helping people learn to string sentences together. It's really about finding the best way to communicate an idea in an informed way. But, then I get to grade essays. 


But, the first week of class requires something different from me.

And I am still trying to find the right balance between lecturing about the rules, which I hate. Does anyone like to sit through a class where the only thing you do is talk about what not to do? And, trying to get to know them as I assess their actual writing level? It's a delicate balance that seems to steal my voice for a little while. 

The irony is not lost on me. I find myself saying to each class, with a slight frog in my throught as I reach for my water bottle, "You have a voice... You are here to learn how to use it in a more effective way... that's why I'm here."

Next week, I'm looking forward to more discussions, less lecturing, and I'll probably be learning new things. At least I hope so.

This is Not the End,