Coming Soon…

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HeyTeach101 is coming back!  I am preparing to come out from behind this anonymous mask – the limitations proved greater than the advantages.  While the anonymity allowed me to write about students and teaching in a way that I never could have written had I attached my name and university affiliation, it limited my online presence in a way that doesn’t work for me any more.

I am also inspired in this renewal effort by my latest book find – Austin Kleon‘s Share Your Work.  He urges those of us who create, whatever our product, to build our online presence by sharing not only the final product, but the process as well.

So for the duration of this experience of creating a new website, I am going to be chronicling my efforts and discoveries right here.  So far my process has mainly been sliding down one rabbit hole after another, looking at website hosting, logo creation, and the trademarking process – I will share those explorations in future posts.  This will get me back into the habit of writing with visibility and it will also hopefully result in a gorgeous new website.  Stay tuned!

Nov. 7 – Capture the Wind Indeed

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Nablopomo Day 7.  Yesterday I committed to carrying around paper and pen to write down those elusive ideas as they float through my brain.  A step towards building content, developing ideas, corralling the chaos that is my thought process.  Great plan.

So…. I was walking to class this morning in a cold drizzle and I was close to being late so I was scurrying across campus.  I had an idea for this post, but I didn’t want to stop in the rain and I didn’t want to be late to class.  So I pulled the paper and pen out of my pocket and repeatedly recited a reminder of what I wanted to write about as I hurried to class.

Alas.  I heard a young voice call my name and turned to find a former student who wanted to tell me she had found her path, she loved her major and her professors and was doing well and on track to graduate in another year.  I was thrilled and delighted.  She looked radiant, and the encounter gave me a heart smile that persists even now.

But the idea was gone.  Not slipped for a moment, soon to be recovered.  Gone, blown away entirely by a two-minute encounter.

Lesson learned.  If I want to hold on to ideas, write them down RIGHT THEN AND THERE.  Don’t count on reciting it until I get somewhere where it’s easy to write it down.

I learned another useful lesson, my former student is shining, and I am happy today.

Nov. 6 – I Had an Idea


Photo by Dominick Alves, made available by Creative Commons license

I have been thinking about what to write all day.  Had a number of ideas.  None of them got written down, and none of them are still available to me to write about.  So here we are.  Nine p.m. and all the good ideas have fled, wisps of creativity blown away by the winds of the day.

What have I learned?  If I am going to live up to my commitment to write a post every day this month, I need to get more aggressive about catching the ideas that tickle the edges of my brain throughout the day.  Using my phone to take notes might be a possibility if I’m not in class, but I’m in class many hours every day, and students look poorly on being nagged to put away their phones only to see their professor pulling one out “to take a quick note.”  So I am going to make a concerted effort, starting tomorrow, to write down the ideas as they float past.  I will have a handy dandy folded piece of paper and pen in my pocket for that very purpose.

I was going to call this Project Capture the Wind, but that sounds a bit more like a venture involving sails and excessive bean consumption.  I’ll have to think on that, and in the meantime I will at least make sure I have that piece of paper and pen in my pocket.  I can name the project later.

NaBloPoMo: Day 1


ImageNaBloPoMo, just down the road from Kokomo.  No, maybe not.  But it is National Blog Posting Month, and BlogHer has a huge project going to encourage us to blog daily.  Right now there are almost 900 blogs listed as participating.  There are daily prompts for those who need ideas, there is lots and lots of encouragement and inspiration, and I am going to DO IT.  Write every day for one month.  I seem to remember a few Novembers ago there was a similar challenge to write a novel in a month – not sure if this is an offshoot or not.

I have been coming face to face with many of the excuses I use not to sit down and write.  For some sad reason, the loudest one is the fear that I will become too engrossed in what I am doing and lose track of time and either be late or miss too much sleep.  sigh.  Maybe short but regular entries will be a good way for me to get off my non-writing horse and head to NaBloPoMo.  So, for one month I am going to do everything in my power to post something every day.  Even if it is just a look at another excuse.

So… here we go… off to Nablopomo.

Fifteen Minutes A Day – Easy Peasy It Is Not!

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This is why I don’t set goals – “Write Every Day” indeed.  What initially sounds like a great idea and a life improvement becomes a failure and a disappointment faster than I can write this sentence.  I have let at least ten days slip by, eying my laptop as I got dressed for work, as I drank my morning coffee, as I scoured eBay for the perfect vintage head vases to hold my pens, as I unwound at night by reading the online New York Times.

But did I open my laptop?  No.  Did I write fifteen minutes a day?  No.  Did I spend fifteen minutes a day justifying my behavior to myself?  Yes.  “I don’t feel like doing research.”  “Being back at work and hiring last minute staff is too exhausting.”  “I twisted my ankle.”  “The internet connection isn’t reliable.”  “The dog is sick.”

As I wrote in my previous post, fifteen minutes a day is realistic, minimal, and infinitely possible.  I hereby promise to move forward, forgive my slacker self and re-commit.  Time to channel the Greek god of victory and just do it.

2011 © HeyTeach101 &

Write Every Day

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Mackintosh numbersMackintosh numbers 2

I am determined to keep this blog going once school starts again in a few weeks, but I am worried that the challenges of the upcoming semester will pull me away from writing.  To counteract the fall semester brain-spirit-energy drain, I have decided to commit to writing for fifteen minutes every day, starting … now.

Fifteen minutes isn’t long enough to get a multi-paragraph post written, with links and images, but it is enough to get an idea down that I can start to polish in tomorrow’s fifteen minutes.  If I spend at least fifteen minutes every day writing, I will get better at getting ideas out of my head and onto the page – an ongoing lesson for me.  The sub-text of this blog could be “Just do it!”

This idea of fifteen minutes of work reminds me of advice from one of my favorite creativity coaches – the artist SARK.  She advocates taking teeny tiny steps (“micro-movements“) to accomplish our creative goals – steps that take maybe five minutes but that move us closer to our dreams.  Make that call, write down that idea, make a list, ask a question.  Do it now.

Fifteen minutes.

Inspired by Richard Byrne’s “Best Tip for Beginning Bloggers” – write every day.

2011 © HeyTeach101 &

Enjoy the Silence

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Is anyone listening??

As I was preparing to start this blog, I wondered if I would feel like the worried hostess on the night of her first party, her home filled with wondrous food and enchanting decor, watching for the guests who never arrive.  That image almost derailed my efforts to start this blog, until I found this post by Sommer Leigh entitled “The Lonely Factor,” about writing, at least initially, for no one.  She makes the point that new bloggers should expect to write to the silence for the first few months.  If it doesn’t drive us to quit blogging, it will give us time to learn our way while remaining safe from most critical eyes.  I found comfort in this idea of safety and growth in silence and was encouraged by her post to brave the “lonely factor.”

This connection between silence and safety and learning got me thinking about teaching (as does almost everything!)  Most of us are afraid of silence, and move to fill the fearsome void with speech as quickly as possible.  In social situations this can soften an awkward moment, but in teaching more often than not it short-circuits students’ responses.  Processing a question and formulating an articulate response takes time – thirty seconds or more for most of us.  For students, who are trying to please us and are often afraid to take the risk of sounding stupid or being wrong, it takes longer.  And yet, how often do we wait for students to think about the question, figure out what it is we are asking, then think about what they have to say on the matter, then put those ideas into words they are willing to share with the entire class?  One second?  Five??

Try standing in front of a class and counting out thirty seconds in your head.  It is a lifetime!  Yet we must find ways to give our students the time and space they need to formulate their ideas.  One possibility is to give them time to write an initial response, then ask them to share with a partner before sharing with a larger group or the entire class. Giving students time to safely rehearse their ideas before asking them to take the risk of exposing their thoughts to the entire class will increase their willingness to try to struggle through to new ideas and new ways of expression.

One of my favorite student comments at the end of the semester was “Don’t bother stalling when she asks you a question.  She can wait longer for an answer than you can possibly stall.”  Give them time.  Be patient.  Enjoy the silence.

© 2011 HeyTeach101 &

Today’s Lesson: Dithering Revisited

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Sometimes the universe seems to feel the need to amplify my daily lesson.  Case in point: in my dithering about whether or not to start this blog, I consulted my scientist web-savvy brother about my confusion over hosting options, CSS, CMS, HTML, etc.  My efforts to be creative and design my own site were overwhelming me, and I couldn’t seem to find my way forward.

My brother, after patiently listening to me, went off and researched stand-alone blogging sites, then wrote with his recommendation and explanation why I should start there instead of trying to design my own site right away.  I resisted, wanting to be artsy and implement my entire vast vision, today.

Then I re-examined his message, and was struck with how potent it was:  “I strongly believe if you have no content and just an idea that you don’t have much. Sorry to be blunt. But I am full of ideas and I have learned that getting something on paper/on the internet is what makes the idea matter.”

Then I was at an art collage class last weekend and I was madly collecting images while everyone else had moved on to gluing and painting.  The instructor came over and nudged me to move on and actually get something on the page.  hmmm.  Second verse, same as the first.

So, to all of us who struggle, let’s get those ideas out of our heads and into the world!


Anonymous in Cyberspace

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I have been dithering about starting this blog for months now, and one of my (many) rationales for delay was the question of whether or not to create an anonymous persona for this blog.  I teach developmental (remedial) reading and writing at a four-year university. I plan to use this blog to honestly examine what happens in my classrooms, both good and bad, and the only way I can see to do that is to use a pseudonym.  Thus HeyTeach101 was born.

I am passionate about using Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to engage my students in these subjects that traditionally have led them to shut down and tune out.  There is not a lot of literature on using multiple intelligences to teach developmental reading and writing in college, so I am hoping that with this blog those of us who are trying creative and fun new ways to reach students who struggle with college reading and writing can share our experiences and our expertise.  I’ll start, and you all join in as you can.