Saturday, December 10, 2016
December 10-11, 2016: Spring 2017 Preview
[Now that the fall semester has concluded, I’m looking ahead to Spring 2017! Here, briefly, are four reasons why—please add your own previews and hopes in comments!]
1) A New MAVA Class: A couple years back, I taught for the first time in the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) program; as I wrote in that post, I was not only working with a new group of students, but teaching Intro to Speech for the first time as well. The students were as great as I knew they’d be, and while I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes in approaching the content, I was able to build on both the history of speech-making in America, pedagogical theories of communication, and my own experiences with lectures, book talks, and conference presentations to help them think about speeches and public speaking in ways that felt productive and practical. This spring I’ll be teaching another section of that course to a new group of students, and look forward to meeting another cohort of fellow educators and talking with them about the skills and goals of public speaking!
2) A New ALFA Course: I’ve taught in our Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) program almost every semester for the last five years, and will be doing so again this spring, with a new course entitled “Inspiring Contemporary Voices.” I haven’t nailed down which five voices we’ll focus on, read and hear, and respond to in the five class meetings—possibilities include Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jose Antonio Vargas, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, John Scalzi, and more—and I’d love to hear your nominees or suggestions as well! Not sure I can imagine a time when it’ll be tougher but more important to find inspiration than in the months after Trump’s inauguration, and as always I plan to find plenty of inspiration from ALFA’s amazing students as well.
3) A New First-year Writing Course: I don’t get to teach Writing II (the second half of our first-year writing sequence) as often as I’d like; the last time, for Spring 2014, I created a new syllabus entitled “Writing Our World.” I’ll be using the same title and the basic structure of assignments highlighted in that post this time around, but it’s fair to say that no course focused on the contemporary world could be the same in January 2017 as it was three years ago. Our reader, Signs of Life in the USA, has a new edition, but that’s just one small example of my overarching commitment to making this new section a new course in lots of meaningful ways. I’m still early in that process, and once again would love any and all suggestions you might have for such a contemporary-focused Writing II course!
4) Who Knows?!: I’ve got lots of other plans: new sections of two familiar lit courses (American Literature I and The American Novel to 1950); graduate Master’s theses to supervise; goals for book talks and public scholarly projects; work on next book projects; departmental and institutional and organizational efforts. But much of the best of my last few years—and really my career overall—have comprised new or unexpected directions, and I’m determined to remain open to such possibilities in every new semester as well. I’ll be sure to share any and all of them here, and hope to hear about yours as well!
Next series starts Monday,
PS. Spring plans you’d highlight?