Evolving into a New Semester

Evolving into a New Semester

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If you’ve followed my past posts, you know that last semester I took the Composition Theory and Praxis course. Basically it is a graduate level course that teaches you how to teach college English, or First Year Writing as it is called at Columbia College. Upon completing the class, you may be offered a position teach Writing and Rhetoric I or Writing and Rhetoric II in the following semester.In less than one week I teach my first Writing and Rhetoric II class. How am I feeling? Excited, curious, and a little bit anxious, hoping that I have time to eat and sleep between my packed schedule of teaching, going to class, writing, and working (a pretty big shift from what I’ve been doing the past six weeks).

I spent a considerable amount of time this break on passive activities, which include, but are not limited to reading, catching up on Netflix (which I forswore for most of last semester), drinking lots of tea, trying to catch up on sleep, and watching the snow fall while trying to stay warm in my drafty old apartment[*].

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But despite the restful and passive activities that are often encouraged by weather such as a Polar Vortex, I did manage to accomplish a few goals I set for myself over the break.

One was to hit the gym again, with a vengeance. By the time November rolled around, I had stopped running—pretty embarrassing for someone who used to run at least 3 days a week. I started a new routine (that so far I’ve been able to stick to) and even set a new personal best mile time!

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I have also kicked my class preparations into high gear. The past couple weeks I have been working non-stop on preparing for my Writing and Rhetoric II class, building my course site in Moodle, making assignment sheets, editing my syllabus, reviewing the course readings, and (thankfully) swapping ideas with other instructors.

Oh, and I also picked up another job. I’m proud to be joining the team of Writing Consultants at the Writing Center in Columbia College Chicago’s Learning Studio. The past two days I’ve been attending training, reading and discussing Writing Center theory, and getting re-acclimated to writing consultation.

I am going to be ridiculously busy, but I am also ridiculously happy that I have the opportunities to fill my days to the brim with reading, writing, and teaching (and I even get paid for some of it!).

In our writing center training we discussed the idea of constant change—a writing consultation session shouldn’t follow a script or a recipe—it needs to transpire organically, and we must adapt in the moment, being mindful of ourselves and those around us by being fully present. It demands a willingness to evolve, to find new strategies, and to strive to solve problems in new and exciting ways, even if we can’t guarantee the results. I have a feeling that is going to be a reoccurring theme this semester.

I will be facing new challenges as a first time teacher, as a new Writing Consultant at Columbia College, in new classes with different professors, and with a schedule more fully packed than it has been in some time. Rather than stress myself out over this seemingly daunting semester schedule before it even starts, why not wait to see if the boulders will actually fall before I start running?

via geocaching.com

Falling Rock

I know that is probably a strange analogy, but if you are on a hike, engrossed in nature, perhaps stopping to look at the way the rocks come together and split apart at your eye level, examining the small wildflowers that burst between the cracks and the lichen that crawls across the rock face, and then you look up and see a sign that says “FALLING ROCKS,” do you immediately run? You know there’s a possibility of danger, but in that moment there are no signs of rocks coming your way. Do you let it overshadow your enjoyment and ruin the hike? Do you run, not willing to risk it? I believe some chances are worth taking, even if there are big rocks above your head.

As I didn’t officially make any New Years resolutions, I suppose I can make some semester resolutions:

1)   Be mindful and present in every moment, adapting strategies and embracing necessary changes for any rocks that may start to fall.

2)   Balance work, school, and personal life—create time for myself for fitness, reflection, and self-improvement.

Here’s to evolution!

[*] Many apartment buildings in Chicago are well over 50 years old. Mine was built in 1929 according to this really neat website. As a result of their age, many have poor insulation and unreliable radiators. I recommend investing in a space heater.