One of the chief differences between my current job and teaching is my audience. Every time I prepare for a class presentation, such as the micro-teach lesson, a wave of anxiety hits. My pulse quickens and soon I’m asking myself, what’s the big deal. This is the best audience I could hope for. Why do I get so caught up in my performance in this space when I am so completely at ease in front of my occupational audiences? That settles it. I calm down as I recall cranky lawyers, dissatisfied clients, demanding CFO’s, and straight bitchy IP legal assistants jaded by their long days of feeling under appreciated and under paid. I remind myself I am teaching what I want to teach to the audience I want to teach it and I smile inwardly, thankful for this opportunity.
I was prepared for this scenario as I stepped up to the computer on Wednesday night. I was excited to share one of the most gut wrenching poems I know with individuals whom I knew might in the very least appreciate the art of it. I wasn’t prepared however for their overwhelmingly positive feedback. Was I the only one continuously saying thank you? Gratitude. That’s what I was feeling.
As for the poem, we only scratched the surface. In a longer class I would’ve likely told the groups to pass their stanzas to the right and practice the same activities with a new stanza. Perhaps bring the group back to a guided discussion of how these stanzas could be woven back together as a whole. I’m still on the search for an audio recording of DiPrima reading her own work (not sure this ever occurred). Many of her contemporaries have a dearth or recordings that would be enjoyed if incorporated in a given class period.
There is something still very out of body that occurs for me in front of the class (possibly it’s the nerves). All space and time except the classroom, the students, and the text cease to exist. My mind can only focus from image-to-image, interpretation-to-interpretation, as critical engagement supersedes everything else.
For the past couple of years I have been focusing much of my graduate inquiry on research that supports teaching as an adaptive pedagogy whereby the teacher embraces their dual role and student learning from their students. Similarly, adaptation of goals, identities, and reflection corroborate the learning that occurs within and outside of the classroom. The finicky thing about it is that there is no magic generalization that unlocks it all. We will forever be adapting our teaching methods to our students, the situation, the text, and so much more. But perhaps that is the draw for me, the challenge is never ending and continually diversifying.