I’ve had some good and bad teachers over the years (see above for the latter). This is the third semester I’ve taught as an adjunct, English mostly. My students are rarely interested in the subject and, therefore, not generally strong writers.

However, I’ve learned a few tricks for winning them over that seem to be paying off. The most notable being that if you like your students and enjoy their company, they’ll likely become more invested in what you’re trying to teach them. It is a similar technique to complimenting someone you’re trying to get money from.

And if you don’t like the little jerks like, fake it and maybe you’ll come around eventually.

I’ve never felt comfortable imposing language standards on my students, all of whom are from the Bronx. They don’t have examples of college-level-English speakers in their lives, but they get graded as if they’re from Vermont suburbs. As far as the English spoken in their neighborhoods and families (though English is not always the language spoken in their homes), they are masters of it. There is more creative communication going on before and after my Bronx classes than there was during my MFA. It doesn’t seem fair to present them with the restrictions formal, MLA-style writing as if it is an improvement.

Fair or not, it is my responsibility to help them write in a way that will enable them to succeed, even if this success might be Anglo-centric, and I’m committed to that. I do, however, try to let the students know that I like how they speak. I enjoy their slang and vernacular. They are right to feel identity and community in all the words and phrases… that I ex-out on their papers.

More about Building Gooder English.

Did you ever draw a picture of a teacher you hated? What was it like? Tell me in the comments.

This entry was published on October 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm. It’s filed under Art/Comics, Conspiracy!, Doodles and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Teaching

  1. I know Sam and Adolpho did a nice portrait of Zygler (sp?)
    It’s about the same story here in rural America, I tell my students that I teach them the rules so that they know how to use them but also how to break them. Albeit art is a different kind of subject.

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