Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To my ENG1000c Course...

Dear ENG1000Cers,

Since Thursday will mark our very last class together, I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to reflect on our semester, and not so much about what I taught you, but as what you all taught me.

I'm not sure how many of you knew that this was my very first time ever teaching a class, but if you were unaware, well, the cat's now out of the bag. Before September, I had never constructed a syllabus, never engaged with 23 students at once, and never had to give grades (which, by the way, I absolutely HATE doing). Sure I had tutored, led student workshops, and T.A.ed, but I never had my own class, which is something altogether quite different. I was worried, stepping into the classroom, that you would all think I was completely inexperienced and feel that I had nothing to offer you. I was afraid that no one would understand my writing feedback, and you would all think my rubric was crap. I was even more worried that, because almost all of you are Physician Assistant majors, you would have no interest in writing, that you'd simply say, "we're never going to need this," and the class would be a disaster. That first day of class, I was super nervous, and to make me even more anxious about the semester, my lesson plan fell apart. I had to let everyone out 20 minutes early, though I faked planning it that way. *awkward balloon*

Gold Stars for Everyone!
Lucky for me, I had a great group of students to help me get through my first semester of teaching college writing. Every week, you guys made me laugh and smile. Now, I have a full repertoire of "awkward" signals and know that I'm a loser because I don't watch Vampire Diaries and missed out on this year's Harry Potter flick. You showed me "Whistling Puppies" and shared your favorite music with me. On top of it all, you put up with my corny jokes and incessant talking with my hands.

On a more serious note, though, I loved reading your narratives, finding out about your world views, getting to share your experiences, and hearing about the things you believe we need to change in our world. I learned a great deal about what it's like to come to America from another country, to speak multiple languages at home and then only English in school, to find your voice in high school, and how you dealt with the trials of growing up. I learned so much about the world as you see it, and I feel completely honored that you were willing to share so many important, and perhaps vulnerable, moments in your lives with me. Whether you knew it or not, I was really impressed by the writing you did and the projects you created, even if I did have to take away gold stars some days ;) It was a pleasure to have all of you in class, even my "bad influences."

When I applied to St. John's just last year about this time, I thoroughly believed that I wanted to teach and study Victorian Literature. Thanks to you guys, I am saved from a lifetime of work that I wasn't passionate about. Studying something and teaching it are two very different things. I have loved teaching all of you so much that I have reassessed my values and decided that I want to make my role as a writing teacher a permanent one. I shifted my whole course of study, and I am thrilled to be embarking on this somewhat new journey. Of course, I doubt that my future classes will be as awesome or as memorable as ours. 

As my final request to all of you, I ask that you share with me what you felt as you went through this experience, whether here online or in class discussion. While I can pretend I know and will undoubtedly read all of those dreadful course evaluations, I'd love to really hear what you're willing to tell me. I don't want to be making the same mistakes forever, and when I go back to change up my syllabus, I would love to know what you guys think should and shouldn't be in there. Also, I think posting it up here is a great way to show others, who don't have the privilege of course evaluations, what it is that students feel about learning to write. Was there something you really enjoyed reading or writing? Did you absolutely hate doing something or something about the way that I taught? Did your views on writing change at all? It is, of course, in no way mandatory, but after Thursday, this experience will all be memories, and I'd love to have a record to keep with me always.

Next semester, as you branch out into your field and continue your coursework, I encourage you to all drop by my little grey box in the Writing Center and let me know how things are going. And, of course, now that you are all out of my class, you are all welcome to sign up for tutoring sessions with me and to friend me on Facebook (if you can find me). I wish you all lots of luck in completing your programs and making your way to your very bright futures. 

Happy Holidays! See you in 2011.


"Professor Nicole"


Abdul27 said...

"Mrs."/Ms./Nicole/(and now) PROFESSOR Nocole, this class was great! :D)
I honestly enjoyed all of it. You were a great and fun teacher. And, I'm sure all of us enjoyed your class. We learned a lot, and it wasn't as linear as all the other classes we've had. You've brought something new to the table and we've all enjoyed it 100%. I wouldn't mind taking this class again. :P

NP said...

You say that now, but of course, you don't get your grades for another two weeks ;)

You were a pleasure to have in class, Abdul. I'm glad you enjoyed the experience.

nicole said...

honestly i enjoyed the class, even in the beginning when we weren't talking. I did learn a lot and for the first time in my life I enjoyed writing, especially the worldviews.
I am going to miss this class and the gold star group.

NP said...

Thanks for the feedback, Nicole. I thought everyone hated the world view project, so it's good to know that you enjoyed writing it. I'll miss you!

Tara said...

*teared up* nicole, it's exciting to see how passionate you are about teaching composition. after seeing you weigh the balance all semester of following lit or comp, and now "go forth" (as harry would say) into comp/rhet, i just know you made the right decision. clearly, you were an inspiration to your students this semester and those who are lucky enough to have you in class next semester will be just as inspired, i'm sure!

Tara said...

ps - i love the new design.