Another Trauma Narrative: Bits Flashback for May 8

KeyboardOn Saturday, Black College Wire posted an article on a composition assignment that had consequences the teacher never expected. The teacher, Lisa Carl, asked students to write “either a first-person autobiographical account of a significant event in their lives or an analysis of a graphic novel or anthropological classic.”

In response, student Jessica Martin wrote the essay “I had an affair with my high school teacher,” which was later published in the N.C. Central University’s newspaper, the Campus Echo, as part of an annual collection of first-person narratives. The student’s account has resulted in campus scrutiny of her decision to write the essay and the newspaper’s decision to publish it—as well as the arrest of the high school teacher she wrote about.

As I read about the aftermath of the essay’s publication, I thought immediately of Holly Pappas’s Trauma Narrative post last month and how pertinent all the questions she raises are in this situation. It’s worth rereading Holly’s piece and thinking about how it applies and the new questions that it raises.

While you’re looking at past entries, also check out these Bedford Bits posts from last week:

A Few Extra Links

Let us know what you want to know about teaching writing or about using digital tools in the composition classroom by leaving a comment. Your response will help shape upcoming posts.


[Photo: Keyboard by cheetah100, on Flickr]

Brainstorming about Teaching

Need to stop work on the memoir lesson plan that I’ve been restructuring to work on the Snapshots article I set as a goal for this week. The memoir lesson is for an interesting project that ReadWriteThink is part of that coordinates with a PBS documentary. More on that later though.

I still can’t quite zero in on the topic for the Snapshot. I have the start of a piece on student-centered assessment, but I think it’s more of an opinion piece than a Snapshot. Maybe it will work for the Speaking My Mind column actually! I hadn’t thought of that, but there’s another goal. Maybe I can aim for September on that piece.

But back to Snapshot, I’m going to brainstorm some teaching and learning memories to try to get a start. Here goes.

  • freon leak in the typing classroom
  • showing my parents how a reference book worked when I was in 6th grade
  • being told I should be a teacher in 7th grade
  • playing school with workbooks at home
  • sneaking into the computer lab with students
  • fitting work to students’ needs: grammar rules for ed students
  • “golden shovel” as an example of honoring students’ language knowledge
  • engaged research for student looking at Holocaust
  • summary versus analysis metaphors

I wish this weren’t such a difficult process. It turns out that I really should have kept a teaching journal. Or maybe if I search through my personal journals, but my hunch is that there’s nothing but angst and depression in those (and not over teaching but everything else).

I think I can go with the Golden Shovel though. In fact, I could easily spit out a lesson plan on that to go along with the column. I have the assignment, prewriting questions, and peer review sheet in my folders. Wouldn’t be hard to whip it out, and there’s that great reading of the poem on Okay, off to writing that article I think. I hope?