The first thing I notice when revisiting my old blog posts is that my attitude toward my students seems to have shifted slightly.  I haven’t done a 180 as a teacher, but my perspective has changed a bit such that I’m willing to give my students the benefit of the doubt more.  In my first blog entry, I focused on my students’ weak reading comprehension skill s, but through assigned readings, class discussions, others’ comments, etc. I’ve started to see my students as able readers (though perhaps unpracticed in the “traditional” methods of literary analysis).  I hope I can maintain an open mind as I continue teaching—especially as I expect there will be many times when I’m frustrating and/or overwhelmed.

Another common characteristic of my blog entries is that I’m always searching for practical applications:  How can I use this concept or approach in my classroom?  (Hence my appreciation of Linkon and Blau and my frustration with Gee.)  On several occasions I go on tangential explanations of how I might incorporate the ideas I’ve read about into my own classroom lessons (with Krik? Krak!, Things Fall Apart, All Quiet on the Western Front, etc.).  I’m always on the lookout for new and better ways of presenting/discussing the literature I teach.  Part of the reason for my “practical application radar” is that I like to simplify complex concepts/texts, summarizing the main idea or reducing many ideas into the essence of the argument.  For example, in Blau’s TLW, I had to keep a list of the best ideas I came across, and then I had to reduce the list even more when writing my blog.  (A second and perhaps equally valid reason for my quest to find practical applications is that I’m in grad school to become a better teacher, and when I write those painful tuition checks every semester, I like knowing I have at least a handful of new ideas to bring into the classroom.  Maybe not the most selfless motivation, but it helps alleviate the financial pain.)

On a related note, I noticed that I’ve made lists in some posts.  This doesn’t surprise me because I’m generally a list person, but what interests me is that the blog lists seem to be a way for me to wrestle with information overload.  As I just said, I like to have a handful of ideas to take away from each reading, but on the occasions when I feel I have fewer ideas (as in the case of Gee) or more than a handful (Blau), I need a way to process that information.  I recently asked my students to make a similar list after reading a play.  They were to list everything they had learned throughout the unit about themselves as readers and/or about how to read literature (not about the play’s plot).  Some students had long, unwieldy lists of rambling thoughts; others were short bulleted lists of single words or short phrases.  I’m even more fascinated by the idea of lists now.  I’ll have to keep my eye on this.

The last thing that really jumped out at me is actually very simple, but it took me a while to notice that I was noticing it.  When I write, I refer to the text—both general assertions made by the writers and specific quotations with page citations.  I read through my entries several times before realizing that this common thread ran throughout all of them.  When I first realized what I was seeing, I thought, Obviously I refer to the text.  That’s what good readers/writers do.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there’s a lot behind referencing the text—a lot of skills, values, and assumptions that my students do not necessarily have.  To me, going back to the text is a method of validating my own ideas (even when they are in disagreement with those presented in the text) because I have a point of reference, a passage I can point to as evidence when developing my thoughts.  I would write more about referencing the text, but the last thing I noticed is that I always go WAY over the word limit.  (Clearly I have no self-control when it comes to spouting off my own ideas!)

So to sum it up, I think I’ve learned a lot more about HOW I think/process/respond to texts than about WHAT I have to say.  I was worried that all I would do as I reviewed my posts was cringe at my stupid ideas, but the things that jumped out at me most were process-oriented tricks or tasks that I don’t really even think about as I’m writing.  In short, I can definitely see the benefit of having students perform this kind of writing audit (be it based on reading logs, essays, or any other type of writing).

2 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. nikki Post author

    A final thought after just posting my response… I wonder how this activity would be different if we weren’t posting it for all our classmates to read. I think I was more self-conscious in writing this than I would have been otherwise. Anyone else?

  2. Professor Sample

    On one hand, I definitely recognize that this blogging about blogging exercise adds a note of self-conscious referentiality that might otherwise be absent if you were only writing for yourself (or your professor). On the other hand, it’s been enormously enlightening to read everyone’s thoughts, and at least for our purposes, I’m glad to sacrifice a perhaps more private reflection for the power of shared, aggregate knowledge about ourselves and our learning.

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