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Pedagogical Perspectives

Thoughts, Opinions, and Ideas about Postsecondary Pedagogies

Unanswered Questions

I froze mid step handing back papers that morning.

“I’m sorry; what was that?” I asked the student even though I could already feel the blood draining from my face.

I hadn’t heard wrong.  The important pieces were still there.  Active shooter.  Delta State.  One professor dead.

And no one knew anything about the shooter.  Who it was, if he was still at large, nothing.

I thought about my former colleague who was at that moment crouched on the floor of her office with her husband and students, hiding in the dark behind a locked door.  What would she do if the shooter came?  What would any of us do?

That’s a question that unfortunately so many of us in academia now have to acknowledge.  What would we do in the unthinkable?

But we’re teachers, not firefighters or doctors or police.  We don’t save lives in any visceral sense.  Futures, maybe.  But lives, no.  Quite bluntly, we didn’t sign up for this shit. Continue reading “Unanswered Questions”

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First-Year Writing Communities: Making the Myth a Reality

If you stumbled into my Composition I class this morning at the start of class, you would have no idea what class you walked into. My students sat, their chairs arranged in a circle on one side of the room (in what they nicknamed “family time”), and they chatted away the first few minutes of class. Billy shaved his head last night; Adam’s shirt deserved some commentary. Text messages from students delayed by the rain were relayed. Salena, my teaching assistant, and I sat in this circle and participated in the conversation along with the students. Five minutes into class, with most of the students in attendance, I asked a question pertaining to the assignment. My students answered with insightful responses, respecting a peer’s input, listening and waiting for the peer to finish speaking before contributing their own input. This is the type of community building I’ve struggled to build for years, but never before were my attempts this successful, and never before would I imagine this community would show at the start of our third week of class. So how, after almost convincing myself that such communities are a myth, did I make this a reality? I stopped teaching the first week of class (and that is not a hyperbole). Continue reading “First-Year Writing Communities: Making the Myth a Reality”

Getting a Handle on Controversy in the Classroom

What can we learn from controversy? What can we learn from controversy in the classroom?

Recently there have been several incidents that have occurred involving the teaching of a particular graphic novel, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, that have helped bring this controversy to, again, to the forefront of thought in certain academic circles.

There have been recent discussions, particularly and recently at Duke University, surrounding resistance of individual and groups of students to reading Fun Home because of part of the subject matter contained within it. What they primarily appear to be offended by though is the fear of encountering something that may upset them or may go against their beliefs or thoughts about the world. There are several articles discussing this matter at some length, but perhaps the best one, taking into account the controversy and how others are handling it, is a piece from Inside Higher Ed by Colleen Flaherty entitled “No So ‘Fun Home’.”

What about other kinds of controversy? What about the controversy in the everyday classroom?

Well, how does one deal with it? To start, I want to attempt to look at it in three parts: Continue reading “Getting a Handle on Controversy in the Classroom”

Don’t Look Away; Be Brave: Using Hozier to Tackle Uncomfortable Topics in Developmental English

I don’t always scrap a semester’s worth of plans the week before school starts, but when I do, it’s probably because I watched a Hozier video.

I may very well have been one of the last people to watch Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” video. For whatever reason, it wasn’t even on my radar until the end of summer when a close friend of mine put an iPad in my hands and said, “Here watch this.” I watched it once, and then again, put my sunglasses on and stared out the window for a long time. It was maybe one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and at the same time gave me the feeling that I’d been punched and might throw up at any moment. If you’ve seen it, maybe you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you should.

Continue reading “Don’t Look Away; Be Brave: Using Hozier to Tackle Uncomfortable Topics in Developmental English”

The Life Span of a Syllabus

The first day of class is one I look toward with both excitement and trepidation. There is nothing as exciting as meeting a classroom full of anxious new faces and students, but that can easily be quashed by the seemingly robotic presentation of the syllabus, only to know that by the end of the fifth week of class (if not before) you will be the angry cat in the classroom.

kitty Continue reading “The Life Span of a Syllabus”

Icebreakers

My professors always start the first day of class with some sort of student introductions. What are some good ideas for these activities?

Graphic Narratives: Theory, Form, and Application

So, whether you have been paying attention to it or not, our world and our culture has really come around to embracing its visual aspects of communication and expressions once again. I say once again because as theorist Scott McCloud notes in his work Understanding Comics, communication through images was far more common: think of Bayeux Tapestry and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

This being on our plate, I think it is best that we establish and look at the rhetorical situation we have at hand before us. Continue reading “Graphic Narratives: Theory, Form, and Application”

Reader Questions

Do you have a pedagogical question you would like answered? This is the place to ask! Ask your question in the comment section of this post and we’ll add your question to the queue!

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Welcome to Pedagogical Perspectives

If you’ve stumbled upon our blog, you’re looking for something. Most likely, you’re looking for something specific. We’re hoping Google directed you to the specific post you were seeking, and you’re now browsing the other posts and curious about who  is spouting this cleverly insightful (and sometimes jaded) advice and ideas. Continue reading “Welcome to Pedagogical Perspectives”

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