photo by andy_c, made available by Creative Commons license

Nablopomo Day 5.

Let me begin by saying I am not a risk-taker.  [My spouse will fall on the floor laughing at the understatement in the previous sentence.]  I would be just as happy to never ever everstick my neck out about anything.  Maybe it’s fear of confrontation, maybe it’s just wanting to be left alone, but I do not like taking risks, gambling, adrenaline rushes – any of it.  But I seem to keep sticking my neck out anyway, and it makes for some very uncomfortable times.

The latest such discomfort arose as a result of my ongoing struggle not to feel bored about teaching exactly the same few developmental classes for year after year after year.  I teach them differently every semester, but the challenges don’t change, and the basic content doesn’t change either.

While pondering that dilemma the other day I had a sudden conviction that I should make a proposal to my boss for a new program.  I have students whose writing is sorely outside the standards of academic English, and I don’t think that the “process” method of instruction is serving them well as they try to reconcile the structures of their home dialect with the demands of academe.

I explained to my boss about code switching, about research based writing instruction, about direct instruction in language structure, about my background in all of that.  He agreed to read my proposal, but his first response was a long diatribe about the local dialects and how he has spent years trying to harass the dialect out of his in-laws.  oh dear.

So I spent several hours regretting my impulse.  I am definitely rocking the boat by proposing this, as our writing department is deeply entrenched in a very old model of writing instruction.  And I get strangled and inarticulate when I am put in a position of having to argue for something I think is right and important and obviously a good idea and my audience strongly disagrees.  So I dread being put into that position.

I met with my boss last Friday (today is Monday) and heard nothing today.  I am not going to pursue it – I will wait to hear.  But I was able to move beyond regretting making the suggestion fairly quickly, which was an encouraging discovery for me.  I decided that if he isn’t interested I am going to find a way to create a curriculum on my own.

But it is so much easier to tell my students not to make choices based on fear than it is to follow that advice myself.  Hmm, another theme seems to be developing here in this month-long ramble through my mind – do as I teach, not as I do.