(Presentation on “The Management of Grief”)
It’s hard to feel satisfied with a 20 minute presentation when you have a 5-page lesson plan. As an infrequent speech writer, I would never expect someone I write for to be able to cover that amount of information in such a short time… and yet, even though I knew going in just how much I could not cover in the timeframe, I still feel disappointed at all the things I could not cover.
Also on the subject of time. As JJ and Francois and others have mentioned, I was a little surprised at the level of interaction from the class. Although, I do want to thank all of you who did jump in and apologize for cutting off our discussion, I think this (having to cut the discussion short), actually, was the problem for those of us surprised at the lack of engagement. It takes time for a room to build up to interaction, and 20 minutes just isn’t enough to walk through a lesson plan and allow for “students” to reach a level of conversation that really digs in and feels satisfying to a “teacher.” I had not thought about that in advance, thus another disappointment with my presentation. If I were to go back and do it over, I think I would have cut the pre-read exercise in order to really try out the reader response exercise and allow us to spend a little more time on discussion that explored the actual text. That activity was also the most questionable for me, and I would like a better idea of how it works in a classroom.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I have a bit of social anxiety (Thus the turtle neck, because my chest/neck tend to turn a highly fluorescent pink and I often have people asking if I’m okay, which only makes me turn an even brighter shade) and my nerves get so cranked up about speaking in front of people that I have a hard time remembering what I said when I am finished. I trust this will get better if I ever get in front of a class on a regular basis. That said, I don’t think I really explained why I wanted to tie into the Amy Tan piece. This was because Tan and Mukherjee seem to have very different perspectives on heritage and multiculturalism. While Tan’s story is about reconnecting with one’s heritage, Mukherjeee’s is about leaving (at least some of) it behind and creating one’s own path. Together, I think they could strike a balance and hopefully spark an interesting dialogue on how we develop our identities.
As promised, I will post or email my plan and writing prompts. Clearly, I chose to focus on the themes of culture and identity, but as I hope I mentioned at the beginning of my presentation, I find this to be a very rich story. One thing I don’t like about my teaching plan is that it doesn’t allow students to explore some of the other issues that may be more compelling to them. This is part of the problem with such precise goals/objectives created by the teacher. If I want my students to take away a cultural lesson, I am forcing them down that path at the exclusion of others. I’m not sure that is really what I want to do. For example, I chose the piece because I really connected with the grief aspect. I lost 5 relatives while I was in college, including my father. It was a very formative experience to have at that stage in my life. But I would not want to force that theme on a classroom as some students may not have experiences to draw on and others may have experiences that are too fresh to be appropriate or fair to tap into in a classroom setting. But I would want to encourage them to explore that theme if it were the most compelling to them. As such, I may offer students a third choice for the creative writing assignment: to come up with their own assignment, as long as it in some way responds to the text.
So given that I can’t remember what I actually got out of my mouth or how things went, you’ll have to let me know (and don’t be afraid to be honest; although if it’s too harsh, maybe send me an email instead of posting it here). If I start doing this on a regular basis, I may have to record myself. =)
Any comments, suggestions, criticism, brilliant ideas I didn’t think of?