Internship Journal Samples Edit
Week 1 Edit
Today I observed Keegan working with students in individual meetings. He is working through the beginning of project 2. Students are working through project proposals and he is responding. Much of the discussion is focused on the relating the proposal they suggested to what they wrote about for project 1. He keeps the text on his laptop but positions it between the two of them on the table. He is suggesting places for students to look for research that they will need. These meetings seem to be very forward looking with a slight amount of reflection being include in relating the project 2 back to project 1.
Week 2 Edit
My first class observation was today. I was a bit worried because of how the schedule worked out I am only starting this on the 11th which seems later in the semester than I would like. Keegan is fully willing to lay bare the artifice of the university for his students. On the one hand this is good because he is completely open about the goals of every assignment that he gives them but at times he undermines some of his own authority as a scholar by directly criticizing things that he is required to teach his students (such as questions of plagiarism as it relates to the university - though he certainly stays within acceptable boundaries). He talked at length about how to find sources for project 2 but did very little in class as far as demonstrating what research looks like. He conducted a genre activity with he readings for class today. Students where asked to suggest genres for the piece which were placed on the board. The class discussed why they thought the genres fit or didn't. This eventually worked into a more analysis of the work outside of discussions of genre but that was only toward the end of the activity. Much of Keegan's teaching seems to be completely unscripted. While this lets the conversation flow well it does lead to a lot of hanging points - questions that could be gone into more but are left not talked about instead.
Week 3 Edit
Today Keegan opened class with a discussion of his own markings on their drafts and citation as it relates to their annotated bibliographies. He did a good job point the students toward the Perdue Owl and showing examples of how citation generators do not always get their citations correct. Keegan went back to the same genre activity that he has used before. The video they talked about today was Dear Mr. Shakespeare which directly address questions of race in Othello. However, as the discussions quickly shifted from genre to focus on those questions of race and representation in the play. I feel like he let the discussion shift from the video to the play even though many of the students haven't read the play. While I like how he starts this activity it feel like the discussion of what genre is usually devolves into more general analysis that does get put in context of the goals of the class.
Week 4 Edit
This week was pretty quiet. Keegan continued to use the same genre activity that he as employed before to anchor the class. I'm concerned that the students are engaging less now and that using the same activity every day does not help to keep them interested in the class and the topic at hand. After the activity Keegan ended class by giving them 30 mins to work on their Project 2. While this wasn't useful for me to observe I do like that he gave them the defined space to work. I was useful today during the class discussion as we talked about Wallace's Consider the Lobster which is a text that I have more experience with than Keegan does. It was not a moment where I was teaching but a moment where I could demonstrate authority. The next day Keegan only held class for 30 min. He was clearly sick and was having trouble concentrating. I was worried about him and let him know after class that if was not feeling well then I could teach class if he gives me a heads up. The day after that he didn't take me up on the offer and canceled class due to to his illness again. This worked well for me because I was also sick at this point and the opportunity to get some sleep helped me make it through the week. Either way - I am a bit worried that missing all these classes in the summer semester is problematic for the students because they have so few classes at all.
Week 5 Edit
Today I taught my class for the semester. The rest of the week is for the second round of individual meetings and after that my work with the class is over so they won't see me anymore. I was teaching a lesson on a short story Punch Drunk by Chuck Palahniuk and an article about how Wikipedia is cast in classrooms vs how it functions in reality. You can see my rough class notes here. I decided to take a cue form Keegan's genre activity and start by using the board to list possible genres. However, I decided to expand the lesson by asking the students to work in small groups after that asking questions about how genre is working in the pieces we read. I then worked with each group before asking the groups to tell the class what they worked on. This worked really well. It let me give some more individual focus on each student as well as keep the conversation centered around how genre works and how each piece was not fitting neatly into any one genre. I with that the final larger group conversation had included more of the class than it did. Other than that it felt good to be back in front of a class.
Internship Reflection Edit
It was very interesting to be back in the classroom after having not taught for two years. I found myself constantly comparing my earlier experiences of what a college classroom is like to what they are like at FSU and how my own teaching contrasts with Keegan’s. Of great interest to me was how the demographics of FSU are drastically different from those at UMass Boston and how the ways we work with the students here are necessarily different from how we worked with them in Boston. However, I found myself referring to the readings and discussions we had had in class more often than not. My own ideas of how to teach have clearly shifted from when I arrived, and I think seeing Keegan’s class was one of the causes.
At UMass I worked mostly in literature classes where much of the focus on teaching analysis and the literary paper. However, what struck me working there was how many of my students were nontraditional students – either working while they went to class, returning to college at an older age, or ESL students. Compared to FSU, whose population is much more of the traditional base of 18 to 24-year-old students who are not working, the classrooms feel incredibly different. Students at FSU are younger and frequently struggling with different problems than the students at UMass. Clearly my own teaching is going to change with this new demographic of students. Particularly watching Keegan work with them in class discussions and individual meetings made me realize that more of the students are still working through the transition to college and the social situations that come with that. Similarly, they are frequently less sure of what the work we are asking them to do is (and what they want to get out of it) than returning students or students to are working full time. The need at FSU to clearly provide outcomes to students who are still not sure how or why universities work the way they do is something that I saw Keegan touch on multiple times (such as how he addressed university plagiarism policy).
The class observations I conducted allowed me to see how some of the things we had been reading about in class look when acted out in the room with actual students. Keegan spent much more time allowing students to write in the classroom than I have seen in the past, providing multiple days where large chunks of time were set aside for them to work on their papers. This space for writing made me think of the Shipka article and served as an example of writing for states with less direction in a way that is more open to them making mistakes while also having the instructor as a resource in the room to help them. In regards to lessons, every day Keegan focused the discussion about readings on genre. He started with the same genre activity and helped them break down how those genres were working – bringing in ideas from the Devitt piece that we read for class. In the past much of my class work has been focused on teaching textual analysis with little emphasis on how to connect that back to the student’s composition. I have now considered how to combine the two approaches. I constantly saw Keegan relate how they were talking about genre back to the projects they would be working on the for class] and it reminded me of the class exercise that I brainstormed in my Devitt response.
What really stuck with me from observing Keegan teach was how honest he was with his students. He went out of his way to peel back the mysteries of university life for them as well as talking about his own work and how it related to what he was asking them to do. I hope to bring some of that into my own classroom going forward. Specifically, I remember the week where Keegan had been sick. He came to class clearly not feeling well but determined to try and work through the class for his students’ benefit. However, when it was clear that he was not up to the task he didn’t give them busy work to fill out the session but admitted that he was not feeling well and let them go early. Afterward he said that students were not going to be served by being in class when he could not make it a helpful experience for them and it was better that they have the time to work on their papers while he took the time to get better. I have seen so many teachers who work to put a barrier between them and their students. That can come in the form of the teaching personas that Tobin discussed, or in a general coldness in the classroom. However, Keegen served as a clear example of the benefits of not erecting that division for himself and his students.
Works Cited Edit
Devitt, Amy J. “Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 44, no. 4, 1993, p. 573., doi:10.2307/358391
Shipka, Jody. “A Multimodal Task-Based Framework for Composing.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 57, no. 2, 2005, pp. 277–306. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30037916.