Anyone who’s read this blog on even a somewhat regular basis knows I’ve written a book about teaching community college students. Truthfully, the book is more of a project, a work-in-progess, since it’s still on my Mac awaiting edits. It needs some jazzing up, something to make it more enjoyable to read and a format that’s more inviting.
Last month I read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. Interesting, I thought.
Last week, I read it again, this time with a greater appreciation for Kleon’s creative approach to encouraging artists, writers, musicians, and creative people of all sorts. How does someone so young know how to put together such a plethora of information in a work that’s both engaging and instructive?
I’ll add motivational to the mix, too. Kleon’s inclusion of Craig Damauer’s quote brought a smile to my lips and a nudge to my muse: “Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.” I asked myself, So what if people don’t like your work? So what if they think they can do it better? Get it out there, Jayne.
I recently gave a friend a copy of William James’ Talks to Teachers on Psychology, and although the cover is colorful and trendy and not my friend’s style, the font is larger, and there are spaces between paragraphs. It’s basically all text with no frills, but the updated version is easier to read. Some people expect more these days. They don’t want just to learn…they want their books to be pretty too.
Have magazines with their slick photographs and engaging layouts spoiled us, thus upping our desire for something more than straight text? Or is it the digital age allowing everyone the freedom to express themselves without fear of censure that’s whetted our appetites for more than just “good” writing? Have mediums such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and various blogging sites encouraged people to thumb their noses at would-be critics?
Editing is hard, especially when there’s a lot of tweaking to be done. I want my book to hit somewhere between Steal Like An Artist and Talks to Teachers. I want it to be interesting and inviting, but I also want it to be educational and beneficial. As it is now, the manuscript is heavy on “Thou shalts” and light on illuminating stories and fun experiences.
Everything I know about teaching is what I learned after joining the profession. Observation, evaluations from supervisors and students, and discussions with colleagues went a long way in shaping my thinking, attitude, and performance. So did courses and seminars.
On my first day of class, I somehow found my voice and jumped into the business at hand. I called the roll, distributed the syllabus, and went over all six pages of notes scribbled on my yellow legal pad. Then I gave out some note cards and asked the students to answer three or four questions about themselves before leaving for the day. As the first person rose to turn in his note card, I noted that it was 10:20. All that work, all those notes, all that talking, and it was only 10:20!
I learned two things that morning: (1) I enjoyed the classroom magic, and (2) I had a lot to learn. I want my “project” to morph into an informative, fun book that introduces would-be teachers to the magic of a classroom and offers beneficial advice about what to do once inside that classroom.
Students and teachers, do you have some advice for me to include? Or an amusing or enlightening story?