[The Spring 2021 semester seems to have been the most challenging for my students of any in my 20+ years of college teaching, and I know for sure it was the most challenging for me. I’m not gonna pretend I have clear reflections or lessons I can take away from it, but what I do have are striking individual moments that reminded me of why we do what we do in the classroom. So this week I’ll highlight a handful of those, and I’d love to share your favorite Spring 2021 moments—or other semester reflections—in a crowd-sourced weekend post!]
Even my grad
class (on American Art & Literature 1800-1860) wasn’t immune to the
challenges that faced us all in Spring 2021—in no small measure because the
same thing that makes our English MA grad students so awesome, their work as
educators, also made them extra exhausted all Spring. But we still had some
great discussions, and one of my favorites was their extended close reading
conversation about John
Gast’s American Progress (1872,
but very much depicting pre-1860 histories of the westward expansion of the
United States). I’ve spent a long time looking at that multi-layered painting,
but these five awesome students and educators still added a great deal to the
mix, and for those few minutes, as with every one of the moments I’m
highlighting in this series, all the baggage of Spring 2021 dropped away.
PS. What do you
think? Spring 2021 moments or reflections you’d share?