Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty. 

I was so sad to hear that Comedy Central’s wonderful skit show Key & Peele will be ending this year.  The two comedians have done some amazing work over the last five years. I really can’t pinpoint their funniest sketch as there are so many good ones, but, as a teacher, I must say the ‘Teachingcenter’ skit from a couple weeks ago needs to be in contention for that honor. Have a look:

Key & Peele’s message is clear. Our society is obsessed with overgrown boys and girls who play games.  We follow their every victory, every defeat and every scandal from the edge of our seats.  So many of these men and women are living a life of decadence, paid millions upon millions of dollars, and we don’t bat an eye. In fact, we cheer them on and defend them if they are part of our ‘team’.  At the same time, large segments of our nation complain incessantly about teachers if they make more than 40,000 dollars a year since they ‘get the summer off’.  Key & Peele are critiquing such social absurdity. They are doing what good comedians do; critiquing societal norms with some dead-on, feel-good humor.

Now, I don’t want this to become too political.  I don’t want to make the argument here that teachers should get paid more (they should), or that athletes should get paid less (they should.) I also don’t want to touch on teacher unions, violence in sports, our nation’s cult of celebrity, or anything else that may lead to some red-faced readers….

No, I just want to copy Key & Peele. I want to give a shout out to teachers. This may seem self-serving since I am a university teacher, but I am not trying to blow my own horn. I really want this post to focus upon a much more difficult position: the K-12 teacher.

I have the utmost respect for these folks. This respect stems from having two elementary aged girls. Of course I love my girls, but I would be lying if I said they were perfect angels. Having them home all day, fighting with elementaryteacher_12529100-655x280each other over the most mundane things can get on my last nerve.  So, I simply can’t imagine how difficult it must be having 20 to 25 such children in an often cramped classroom. How do teachers control such an environment for 8 hours a day, five days a week? I really don’t know. But in happens every day all over this nation. And what is more, teachers so often do this magic trick with a smile. I know my girls’ teachers do. Not surprisingly then, the kids constantly let me and my wife know that they LOVE school. Why do they love school? That one is easy; they LOVE their teachers.  And, their teachers love them.  You can see that at the end of each tiring, trying day when the teachers greet the parents with a laugh and a nod. As a parent, and as a teacher, this 3pm send off repeatedly leaves me in reverential awe.

So, raise your glasses to the K-12 teachers! Key & Peele are right; they are the true superstars!

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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

One of the many benefits of a profession in education is time off in the summer. The others include the certainty that everyone needs what I can provide, and the product I deliver will perpetually increase in value.mandela

My school year concludes on July 9th. Now is the time to reflect on my year as an educator. Reflection is a central part of education, and I am happy to model a behavior I frequently urge my students to practice. Intellectual inventory can be conducted in countless ways, but I typically frame the discussion as “what’s working” and “what’s not working.” I try not to get too fancy with the daily stuff of life.

I’ll limit this reflection to the classroom. All the rest of professional life is just meetings and paperwork, both of which are necessary, but neither terribly fun. Side note: I am a proponent of the rare, trendy, and marvelous “walking meeting,” and will push for its further use next year.

I confess I’d have to look up my schedules for fall, winter, spring terms to determine exactly which classes I led in 2014-2015. I know I taught writing classes, and communications classes, and creativity classes, and literature classes, and humanities classes, and I suppose that is specific enough. In each of these courses, I was offered the opportunity to learn for and with and from my students.

As a teacher of a wide range of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, I regularly learn which texts work and which don’t. Students always enjoy reading Martin Luther King, Jr., finding his writing to be even more impressive than expected. The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton was so well received by my Creativity 230 class that I bought the book for my nephew Alexey; he starts college this fall at my alma mater, The Ohio State University. I find my students generally like poetry more than anticipated, this year’s favorites included “The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden and “The Facebook Sonnet” by Sherman Alexie. My Dystopian literature classes proved Bradbury and Vonnegut’s appeal is timeless. And we all loved a twenty-first century short story treasure (with a ridiculously long title) that I found by Eugie Foster.

Readings that didn’t work are always a surprise because I believe I’ve chosen spectacular texts. My students could not get excited by Brave New World; too slow, they lamented. The creativity text Out of Our Minds by Ken Robinson did little to engage my classes, his examples oftentimes distracting from the abstract ideas represented. I’ve already identified new books to try next year, including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and The Creative Habit by Twlya Tharp.

Besides the texts, things under the heading of “what’s not working,” included a set of assignments that I considered reasonable, but were deemed overwhelming by students. Midstream, I made changes to better serve the intentions of the class. Over a decade of teaching provided prep work for the lesson I only recently accepted: the paramount importance of flexibility; I have learned to bend.

What worked included a student’s desire to know more. When many tired students were asking for a day off, or at least a “movie day,” one student rejected the idea, observing: “She’s not going to cancel class, so we might as well learn instead of just watching a movie.” At least someone was paying attention.

Ultimately, what matters involves groundwork for what happened in the classroom. A class worth being a part of is not an ordinary occurrence. Teachers struggle to concoct a winning mix of preparation, enthusiasm, knowledge, openness, and community. My primary efforts lie in creating circumstances in which all of the above flourish. Establishing a true sense of community among the students is of paramount importance. I forge community slowly, introducing new ways to meaningfully interact. I am sometimes struck by the sense that I am just throwing a perpetual intellectual cocktail party (sans cocktails), and any omission or inclusion can spoil the occasion.

What works is when students are truly present. I remind them that their presence starts with the act of waking up, putting on clothes, and coming to class (ideally with books and other learning materials, too).

group-of-people-walking-and-texting1This effort, I assure them, ought to be respected, rather than negated by texting throughout the class. Many, many of my students would rather text or do whatever it is they do on their “machines” than attend to what is happening in class. Such is the burden of their generation. I do not envy them.

ranger_14_circle_col

Ranger Trish?

What works is when students take ownership of their learning; then, I simply facilitate, answer simple questions, offer suggestions. Analogies illuminate every aspect of my teaching practice. One equates a teacher to a park ranger: both provide necessary information, note potential dangers, and point to a wide range of paths each individual might explore. I never tire of an awesome analogy.

Watching my students work together, talk, learn, grapple with meaning, that’s the stuff of a good day teaching, always and forever “what’s working.”

I am eager to have a term off, to read and write (as I encourage my students to do), to travel and explore, to rest and relax, to reconnect with who I am and who I long to be, to inspire myself so that in the autumn I will have energy to begin again.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Summer 1 quarter is my time off from teaching. But, as my esteemed colleague Peter Stern stated in his Turtle profile, “teaching is what life’s all about.  Everyone’s on this great green globe to teach and learn and/or to learn and teach.” Or, perhaps to put it another way: You can take the boy out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the boy.  Sure, I could just sit on the couch and watch TV, but I really would rather be thinking of new methods, new ideas and new courses.  Thus, most of my first four weeks off have found me elbow-deep in a book or two about a topic that has always intrigued me: Race.  I am working on a course tentatively titled ‘Race and the History of Racism’. The structure of the course is slowly developing in my mind; soon I hope to start transferring my thoughts to electronic documents.

I want to share with you, dear readers, an idea I have for the course.  By sharing this, I hope to get some feedback, and hold my feet to the proverbial deadline fire. I would like to implement the below idea by the time I return to RMU in July. Now, let me explain….

When dealing with the topic of race in America, it is often difficult to move beyond the notion of racial absolutism.  The idea that there are 3 or 4, or 5 or 6 ‘races’ that encapsulates all humans. Such racial absolutism is central to American culture and history.  It is, however, a fallacy and to disprove it we must shatter American notions of racial categories. But, how to do this?  There are many readings, essays or monographs that could do the trick.  But as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I want to SHOW the cliched rainbow of humanity in all its diverse form to my students. Luckily, technology is here to help.

During the last couple years, psychologists have utilized digital photography to ‘composite’ human faces into national average visages.  By so doing, these scientists have muddied up any simplistic notions of racial identity. Of course, this idea of ‘average’ physical image is somewhat flawed.  There can never truly be an ‘average national look’.  Still, the attempts are incredibly suggestive when viewed together at one time since they illuminate how the world’s population physically blend imperceptibly over created state borderlines. Just glance at the 40 images below, and try not to see the shared humanity.  The faces just blend from one to another.  There is no definitive color line.

average_faces_of_men-741954

But, there is a problem here. These photos are ordered alphabetically, not geographically.  The psychologists miss an opportunity by ordering the pictures this way.  Why not put them on a map so that we can really see the faces physically blend?

Why not indeed?  This is my goal!  Edit each picture, and place them onto an interactive world map.  I am thinking of using Google Earth for this, since it is simple to add images  to this  fully immersive global Googe-Earthmap.  Doing this will illuminate for my students the malleability of race; hopefully, this will lead them to question absolutist American racial concepts.

I really think this has some promise. It may take awhile, but I have quite a few weeks off.  I will give you all an update later on.

Now, off to work!

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Each of the last three terms, I have taught RMU students about the Holocaust.  I created this course on history’s most infamous genocide, and it is, as compared to the most of the survey history classes our students take, extremely detailed.  To properly cover such a topic within 10 weeks is quite challenging. One hurdle to face is the seemingly simple question: Where to begin?  Should the course focus solely upon the Twentieth Century?  Or, should it range back to the earliest days of European Antisemitism; perhaps even back to the break of Christianity from Judaism?  It is a difficult issue, but, after teaching the course numerous times, I have a methodology.  The first class in the course focuses upon Christian Antisemitism and anti-Judaism from the earliest days, down to the beginnings of the early modern European world (circa 1600).

1889_French_election_poster_for_antisemitic_candidate_Adolphe_Willette

Antisemitism as a term was first used by anti-Jewish political parties

Obviously, this is a great deal of information to dole out to students in 90 minutes, and though I think I have gotten pretty good at painting with a broad historical analytical brush, I recently realized I faced a problem in this initial course.  The first couple times I taught the course, I quickly jumped into the history of Antisemitism, using the term Antisemitism over and over during my first lecture.  Most students seemed interested, and appeared to recognize the word.  Then, maybe a year ago, when I mentioned Antisemitism for the first time in class, I noticed a furrowed brow or two among my students.  Hmmm.  Why the confusion? Then, it struck me: These students don’t recognize the term.  Sure enough, when I asked my students who knew what Antisemitism was, I only saw a tentative smattering of hands.  My mind zoomed back to my previous courses. What if the vast majority of my students had NO idea what I meant in any of those classes when I first used the term Antisemitism?

I jumped into action.  I needed to clearly define the term.  Or, better yet, I would ask my students to find a definition for me.

Understand that I write this not as a critique of my students, but as a critique of myself.  I had been making the worst assumption a teacher can make.  I lazily figured that my students have the same information in their heads that I do. The power of this classroom incident really struck home for me recently when I stumbled upon a wonderful, important article in The Atlantic titled, “To Read Dickens, It helps to know about French History and the Bible.”  Jessica Lahey, the writer of the article, is a middle-school teacher.  She realized that for her students to really understand, and hence, enjoy Dickens’ classic The Tale of Two Cities, they would need to be ‘culturally literate’ in the terms of French 18th century history and the New Testament.  To provide this cultural background, Lahey now begins each of her classes with important terms and ideas that will clarify the necessary material for that day.

Lahey does this for her 8th graders, but, this is not something that should be exclusive to age or grade level. Such introduction to ‘cultural literacy’ is a constant of thorough education. Without it, the student suffers. However, it often must be handled with kid gloves.  The introduction of ‘cultural literacy’ should never be done in a spirit of elite superiority. Let me give one personal anecdote to prove my point. I  particularly remember a graduate school instructor of mine who often portrayed the students’ lack of cultural literacy as an incredible failureJacques-Louis_David_004_Thermopylae on their parts.  One example: In his 19th century German history course, this grad professor asked me and the rest of the students about a Greek history reference we stumbled upon in a work by Nietzsche (I think). No one in the class recognized the reference. Our professor was visibly dismayed.

He huffed his frustration, mentioning that the writer was obviously referring to ‘Thermopylae” and the 300 Spartans who died there facing a vastly greater Persian force. (This classroom incident took place several years before the hit film 300 was released.)  I and my classmates  felt inadequate. According to him, we SHOULD have known about Thermopylae, and the fact that we did not illustrated an unforgivable ignorance.  Imagine how my classmates and I responded to questions from that point on.  There was always a concern of looking ‘dumb’, and facing a dismissive smirk from ‘the expert.’

I realize now that incidents like this happen on an everyday basis in a college classroom. Of course, this does not mean every professor reacts to a lack of cultural literacy in the way my professor did.  But, if we assume all our students understand a term or idea that we are familiar with, we have taken a step on that slippery slope.  Of course, some in the class do have the recognition of cultural ideas and terms from day one.  Those students will most likely be the ‘hand-raisers’.  They will ask the questions, and become invested in the class.  This is wonderful.  But what if most of the class is instantly alienated by an assumption of cultural literacy? This silent majority may lose hope, and/or interest.  Many will feel the way I felt about not recognizing the word ‘Thermopylae’.  Can they overcome this feeling? Will they take it in stride?  This is the question, and it will mean failure or success for many.

I don’t know about you, but I want all my students to be successful.

 

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

On Tuesday, I watched a few minutes of The Biggest Loser before the finale of The Voice.

A few years back, I was hooked on The Biggest Loser. It’s a fun and inspiring show. However, like all of the reality shows I have been addicted to, its charm and novelty wore off. I didn’t start disliking the show, it’s just that reality TV like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and The Biggest Loser become ultra-repetitive after a few seasons because as Bon Jovi said, “It’s all the same / only the names will change.”

During the final weigh-in on Tuesday, I wondered about the host Alison Sweeney and trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, who are the longest tenured personalities on the show. I wondered if, after all these seasons, they are getting tired of the show. It must be like the movie Groundhog’s Day in which Bill Murray’s character constantly relives the same day. Every season, the trainers start with new contestants, go through all the same lessons and struggles, get the finale, and then it’s over. Then, they start from scratch, again and again.

Alison, Bob, and Jillian of NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Alison, Bob, and Jillian of NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

That has to get boring and maybe even frustrating. How do they do it? Why do they do it?

Then I realized I do the same thing as a teacher.

Every term, we teachers start with new students, go through all of the same lessons and struggles, get to the finale, and then it’s over. Then, we start from scratch, again and again.

I can’t speak for Bob and Jillian, but for me, it hasn’t gotten boring.

Just like on a reality TV show, the basic structure of a class doesn’t change, but there are so many variables that make every class and every group of students a brand new adventure. Who are my students as individuals? How will they mesh as a group? How will they mesh with my personality? How will they react to the lessons and activities? The answers to these questions and countless others make every class different.

Perhaps the formula of reality TV wears off on me because I don’t actually get to know the people on the show. Typically, contestants on reality TV just fill a role through the lens of the show’s editing and storytelling; there’s the sweetheart, the villain, the comedian, and so on, all of which strips real people down to the level of stock characters. However, behind the cameras, each season might be a new adventure for the trainers and judges on these shows.

Or they’re just getting paid lots and lots of money.

Whichever.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

The other day, my wonderfully acerbic colleague, Ellen, happened to pick up a document at the shared office printer. Realizing her error, she brought it to my desk. She looked at the poem, a lovely one. It is an excerpt from Rumi, the Sufi mystic, which reads:

 

I died from minerality and became vegetable;

And From vegetativeness I died and became animal.

 I died from animality and became man.

 Then why fear disappearance through death?

 Next time I shall die

 Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels;

 After that, soaring higher than angels –

 What you cannot imagine,

 I shall be that.poeTRY

Ellen read it and said, “Wow, this is really marvelous.”

She continued, “Too bad it’s not marketable.”

We laughed at the absurdity, and I agreed with her.

Poetry isn’t a marketable skill, nor should it pretend to be.

The encounter reminded me of Robert Graves’ famous observation, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”graves

Work is work. Money is money. Poetry is something else entirely.

I am teaching Creative Writing this term, a seriously wonderful class for a literature-lover like me. I get to teach poetry! Poetry! This is a gem of a class.

Alas, teaching a ten-week course in Creative Writing requires me to face a rather formidable problem: covering poetry in three weeks, meaning six class periods, equally approximately twelve hours. How can I even begin to acquaint my students with the overwhelming splendors and stark despairs that populate the poetic landscape?

I’ve settled into a reliable strategy; the optimum way to learn how to write poetry is to read poetry.

Thus, I have shared a small sampling of my favorite poems with my students.

For our discussion of imagery, I gave them Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.”

To help them experience metaphor and simile, I offered James Wright’s “A Blessing.”

And “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Another sentimental favorite is Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish.”

Poetry is an extraordinary gift, so I send poems along in birthday cards and on the central celebrations that accompany life: wedding and births, even the unrelenting deaths.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poetry encompasses all. As Whitman says, “I contain multitudes”.

In “Poetry,” Marianne Moore explains that poetry must contain “Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” Poetry is the art that feeds on life.

Poetry reveals life, too, often in words and ways that are incomparably beautiful.

Writing poetry means summoning the courage to express human experience creatively. To put words on a frail, white page. To imagine a new thing into being, with the hope that it can, one day, aspire to be art.

It doesn’t matter how good my students’ poems are. It matters that when invited to write poetry, they feel inspired enough to undertake the task.

It is beneath poetry to be marketable.

Poetry is better than that.

 

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Teaching a course on the Holocaust is challenging.  What should be the goal of the course: To explain why the event occurred, or how it transpired?  What should the course focus upon most: The perpetrators of the crime, or the auschwitz-birkenauvictims of the massacres?  How should we remember the legacy of the nightmare: As a unique moment in history, or simply another horrendous chapter in the unending book of human cruelty?

As an instructor, I have other, more personal hurdles as well.  I naturally attempt to use humor, and irony to make points in my courses.  This is not possible when analyzing Auschwitz-Birkenau.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I attempt to use images and video as learning tools.  There is no shortage of documented images from the Shoah, but where do you draw the line between necessary illumination of horror, and macabre voyeurism?

These are difficult questions I face every Tuesday and Thursday at 10AM.

But, this quarter I am finding that I have a new, more disturbing challenge.    During the last couple weeks, I have come to realize that  I was using the language of Nazism to explain the historical context of the genocide. I know this sounds….not good, so let me explain.

When investigating the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, and Nazi propaganda, I must analyze Nazi ideology with my students.  They must understand that the Nazi weltschauung was Manichean in nature.  Good vs. Evil, right vs. wrong, light vs. dark.  Hitler and the Nazis understood humanity and individual identities utilizing such antithetical notions.  Supposed racial essence, most obviously the difference between Jews and Aryans, was all important. During 1933-1939, the period that Saul Friedländer has termed the ‘Years of Persecution’, Hitler and his Nazi movement regularized such ideas throughout German society.  The Nazi’s initial end during these early years was not to annihilate the Jewish people, but to destroy the Jewish community within the German homeland.  German Jews were to subjugated and relegated to secondary status, with the hope that the community would disintegrate through emigration. Thus, the Nazi state constantly and ubiquitously portrayed an ineffable and unbridgeable gap between the true German, the ‘Aryan’, and the parasitic outsider, ‘the Jew’. This portrayal of complete difference allowed the ‘German Aryan’ to feel superior to his German Jewish neighbor, and have no problem with any legal discrimination against the latter that was passed.  This was incredibly, and horrendously effective.

Victor Klemperer

Victor Klemperer

The success of Hitler and the Nazis in this realm can be seen in the fact that my students are surprised that many German Jews felt they were Germans first, and Jews second.  In 1933, there were only about 500,000 German Jews living within the Reich, and a great number of these men, women and children constructed their personal identity upon national, not religious or racial, terms.  German Jews were proud of German influence in world affairs, in German technology, German education, and, most particularly, in German high culture. Just like non-Jewish Germans, they lionized Beethoven, Kant, Goethe.  In fact, a good number of German Jews were disgusted by what they understood as Hitler’s theft of the German cultural heritage, since they believed Hitler was wholly antithetical to this legacy.  For instance, Victor Klemperer, a German First World War veteran, diarist, and German Jew, viewed the Nazi movement, and Hitler in particular, as a horrendous befouling of the German Kultur and Bildung that he loved so much Hitler and his Nazi thugs smeared the true Germany that so many German Jews adored.

This brings me back to my newest challenge.  I understand the complexity of German Jewish identity, the stealing of Germanness from the nation’s Jews, and yet, I find myself linguistically differentiating Jews and Germans in my lectures.   As I explain Nazi methods and ideas, I inadvertently, yet unthinkingly, fall into the Nazi usage of antithetical identity language.  Looking at German history during the Hitler years causes me to separate ‘Jews’ from ‘Germans’, in an absolute, essentialist manner.  I inform my students that ‘Jews’ and not ‘Germans’ were most effected by the Nuremberg laws.  I explain to them that the ‘Jews’ and not ‘Germans’  faced persecution on Kristallnacht.  I illustrate that it was the Jews and not ‘Germans’ who were transported to Auschwitz-Birkanau, Treblinka, and Belzec.  In this, I teach the fallacy that Jews were not Germans, and Germans were not Jews.

I nauseously realized that I may be providing Hitler with a posthumous victory.

I can’t let that happen.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I’ve taught thousands of students over my fifteen years of teaching. I’ve forgotten nearly all of their names. If they remember my name, I’d be surprised. I’d rather them remember something I taught them, though I prefer the verb “share” to describe what happens in the classroom because share is the most accurate verb for what teaching encompasses. Teachers share their passion, their intensity, their curiosity, their perspective, and their (frequently groan-worthy) jokes. Teaching is the act of sharing ideas—a wonderfully generous act, and teachers devote their lives to it. Teachers share facts, information, and, ideally, knowledge. How magnificent that ideas are not depleted but expanded through the act of sharing. Ideas are meant to be taken and shared, like bread passed along and across an endless table filled with teachers and learners.

I think about the countless ideas shared with me over the years by my patient, brilliant teachers, my talented, supportive colleagues, and my engaged, enthusiastic students. One of the most fantastic aspects of my teaching career is Teach-New-Conceptsthe time spent with students. What a fantastic way to spend the day, surrounded by unique individuals who challenge and surprise and delight me every day. My students push me to explain myself more clearly, to think from a different perspective; my students bring new, unexpected ideas and experiences to the classroom. My students regularly make me laugh. My students are generous, and I gain an immense amount through knowing them. I elicit book, film, and music recommendations.  Some students have offered even more amazing treasures. An eager student in my literature class created compilation CD’s to accompany his essays on Kafka and Existentialism. One student was inspired by my poetry lessons and wrote a sonnet (a sonnet!). Since college terms move quickly (especially at RMU), the years and students cycle by me at an alarming rate. I will encounter students and assume a year has passed, only to learn they have already finished graduate school. Some things that my students have shared with me in the past have become a part of my courses. One remarkable idea—a gift from a student whose name I have forgotten—continues to inform my teaching and learning: “Progress is success.”

I’m lucky to be a teacher, happy to be a teacher. One of my favorite “games” to play when I was young was “school.” My older sister Theresa pretended to be the teacher while I was the diligent student, listening attentively, working hard. Was that nature or nurture at play? In any case, I have spent the majority of my life happily learning, reading, and writing. I talk to my students about the necessity of investing in themselves. When teachers do all the things that make teaching—that is, sharing ideas—possible, we are investing in the education process. I believe in education as a means of individual and, consequentially, social empowerment.

There is nothing better than a good day teaching. A good day teaching is wildly exhilarating; it is a ride on a luck dragon

“A good day teaching” is about one thing: connectivity. I am overly fond of quotes, especially the simple, beautiful command from E. M. Foster to “only connect.”  A good day teaching is about confluence and culmination and ultimately an arrival at a point of connection between ideas and people that results in insight. This moment of insight sparks a remarkable phenomenon: the student’s face will actually, noticeably light up (and what a lovely light).

“We do not remember days, we remember moments,” says Italian writer Cesare Pavese.  And so it is that “a good day teaching” consists merely of moments. A good day at school has been captured in many inspiring films. I’ve cried watching every one of those films which elevate the classroom experience, but the subtle accomplishments in the excellent documentary The Class reveal a more perfect truth. Extraordinary moments of learning are fleeting, like the sighting of a rare a astonishing bird. In reality, “a good day teaching” entails, perhaps, one brief hour on the luck dragon, the other seven hours  (or more) are spent preparing course materials, reading ancillary documents, researching curriculum, grading assignments, updating course materials, attending meetings, holding office hours, and other necessary aspects of education.  This does not mean that all the other aspects of teaching are drudgery. They are the things that must be done in order to get a ticket for a brief, yet glorious ride.