The list of teaching/writing stories

I’ve decided to try to go through Williams Hall mentally, stopping in each room that I taught in and seeing if there are any memories related to the classes in that space. I should also go through my folder of handouts and whatnot, but they’re in Champaign, and I’m in Blacksburg. So here goes.

  • Godzilla stamp
    I was teaching business writing with a behavioral method where you got P/F on all papers, and you had to compile a certain number of Passes to get various grades. The idea, which I had some article to support at the time, was that in business world you don’t get A’s and B’s. You either get a pass and you send the piece out, OR you get told to redo the work. I don’t like to mistrust students, but well, they are students. I realized that it would be easy for someone to fake a check mark or some such handwritten thing on their papers; so I used some stamps and an ink pad to indicate the P/F. Because I had this silly Godzilla stamp, I told them that if they made really stupid mistakes (like failed to spellcheck), they’d get the Godzilla. Oddly, the Godzilla stamp became a POSITIVE thing. It was the one and only time that giving criticism was taken as positive feedback. They laughed and carried on about the Godzillas that they got. And when someone typically got a Godzilla on every paper and then got a Godzilla-free paper, there was much pride. I’m not sure I could ever repeat the way that this worked, but it was fun while it lasted.

  • Space Shuttle
    Not really a writing/teaching story, but when Challenger exploded, I threw out my class plans and we just watched and talked about the news coverage that day. A number of people were sort of shocked, and it seemed like the best thing to do. [and yes, it feels freaky to write this down on the day of a space shuttle launch]

  • Guitar
    A failed experiment, but in the first class that I taught, I brought in my guitar. Someone in GTA training brought in a guitar to talk about the importance of practice and trial and error. I’m not a good guitar player, so this really failed miserably.

  • Tennyson article
    Also in my first class, I brought in all the drafts that I had gone through for a Tennyson paper that I wrote, and which was going to be published in The Explicator. I think they thought I was crazy to have so many drafts, but I did try to demonstrate what a complete writing process looked like. Might be interesting to digitize all that stuff actually.

  • Nikki Giovanni
    I was lucky enough to teach in the same department as Nikki, and I had her come talk to my students in American Lit. They were so entertained and asked loads of questions. The most memorable of which was about her use of lowercase letters.

To be continued…

Comments are closed.