Tag Archives: writing

Vicariously Dreaming

This week is all about dreams, and I wanted to break away from the abstract big-picture view I normally go with and talk about something personal to me.

Several years ago through the glories of the internet I befriended a young man named Danny who, like me, was passionate about writing. Very quickly I realized he had a gift for wordsmithing, poetry, and editing that all surpassed my own. From that common love we became what would be the digital equivalent of pen pals. We share stories, poems, and ideas, and the edits that ensue always seem to produce much higher quality work for both of us. It remains a symbiosis.

Over the years I started to get to know Danny on a more personal level. Like me, he suffered from asthma but, unlike me, his asthma continued into adulthood and served as a constant source of hospitalization and medical bills. Like me, he has a wonderful sibling who serves as friend as much as kin  but, unlike me, whose father is an evangelical minister, politician, and pillar of the community in which he resides, Danny suffered through multiple negative parental figures.

Danny enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, initially pursuing a similar English degree to the one I had pursued during my Bachelor’s. It was at this point that I started to give Danny advice on more than just writing. In him I saw limitless potential and the same drive and passion for writing that I had as an early college student. I was a much wiser man than I was in college and had clear hindsight on all the poor choices I made during my academic career that impacted my professional and personal life down the road. I encouraged him to take advantage of the opportunities that came his way and, although I believe he would have made the same decision in my absence, he eventually became a writer and an editor for Odyssey. With that accomplishment he conquered one of my greatest regrets from my own schooling, failure to have meaningful writing experiences outside the classroom. As he continued to write more insightful articles he built up a portfolio and a reputation for quality that even my current resume would be jealous of.

Even though Danny is only ten years my junior, I began to understand what it was like to have a son to feel pride in someone else’s accomplishments. To see him grow in skill and confidence seemed more rewarding to me than it was to him. Without knowing it, Danny was purging all the demons of my past mistakes through his own achievements. It was a wonderful feeling, but I was unaware Danny was still dealing with his own demons. Thankfully, unlike me, he would face those demons down on his own instead of through someone else.

In 2017, Danny came out to the world in a lovely article. I had known for a short period of time before, but I could tell it was a struggle for him to admit it even to me, the professor who loves to talk about how important it is to appreciate other points of view and will rant for an hour about critical thinking skills.

In 2018,  Danny will be receiving the prestigious McKibbin Medal upon graduation and is on the precipice of making some major life decisions, but I can honestly say no matter where his life leads he is already a wiser, stronger man than I could have even dreamed of being at his age. I am truly thankful for the inspiration and confidence he has given me by simply having the courage that he has.

Danny,

Thank you for helping a middle aged professor dream again.

Now go conquer life.

 

 

 

On Writing and Teaching Writing

As I set out on the 6 x 6 challenge, I’m confronted by the same rhetorical considerations as any First Year Composition student and any writer, really. I must ponder who is this piece of writing for? What do I want the writing to do? And, like our students, my composition of this piece was nearly derailed by the obstacles of everyday living. And so, that’s the purpose I’ve happened upon, for this entry anyway: I want to share this odd idea I have that a) our students aren’t that different than we are and b) our students might be trying harder than we think they are. B is going to take more up more than one entry as it relates to a more broader philosophical approach that I call strengths based learning.

When I saw the email from the CTLE about Write 6X6, I was interested in participating but fearful I wouldn’t be able to carve out enough time to submit something every week and a bit intimidated at the idea of a group of quite accomplished professionals being my audience for each entry. Of course, this is exactly how most of our English writing students feel. They want to become scholars, learn, and contribute to our college, but they’re not sure they can keep up the time commitment and, for all too many of them, they’re not sure they belong. I can think of all too many examples to support the latter point. Here’s one: Just two days ago, I did a peer review in my Developmental Writing class. The class seemed quite invested in their discussion of each other’s work, and two were still talking after class ended as I erased the boards and packed up those whiteboard markers that are such a vital part of my English professor ethos. I cleared my throat a little more loudly than I meant to and the students both quickly apologized. Surprised, I realized they thought I was trying to give them some kind of hint to wind up and leave. I told them that far from trying to hurry them, I appreciated their concern for each other’s work and their desire to finish the conversation they were having.

When I left, I thought that perhaps part of the problem is they saw the classroom as mine, when in reality it’s theirs. They are the ones who pay the tuition, and, in turn, we instructors are paid to provide a service to them. Feeling comfortable and safe is a vital foundation for the learning process. While I do consciously cultivate this in the classroom – via learning and using students’ first names quickly, talking with them before and after class, acknowledging the effort they put into every classroom interaction and assignment, etc. – this made me realize we have to do more to make students realize the college belongs to them. They need to feel the same sense of ownership across the entire campus that I feel in my office. They should feel like scholars, integral parts of the educational apparatus, not visitors or worse, intruders. Perhaps this is one of the reasons participation in campus activities is related to completion. If you’re connected to other students, an organization, a building you visit to watch an event, you belong. Continue reading On Writing and Teaching Writing

 

Challenge (Happily) Accepted

What fires your passion for your field of interest and reminds you of your role at GCC?

My answer… the 6×6 Challenge. My passion is writing and unfortunately, is not closely related to my role as the Coordinator of Fiscal Services. Participating in the 6×6 Challenge brought my passion for writing and my role at GCC a little closer. Any time there is an opportunity to write – office process docs, communication to the campus from our office, Maricopa Priorities – I happily volunteer. Writing for the 6×6 Challenge allowed me to bring out my creative side and gain valuable insights about my role at GCC.