Get out of the classroom.

I just wrote about two majorly wonderful events that I initiated in our House 4 of the New Community College. Here I wrote about World Book Night, and here I wrote about an author visit by Jean Kwok who wrote our Composition I book Girl in Translation.

What I didn’t write about is how damn stressful setting all this up was for me. That I had about 50 emails exchanged with the folks from World Book Night and Jean and the other faculty in my House 4 (we work in instructional teams). That managing both of these events literally almost put me over the edge, especially because both events happened to land one day after one another (April 23rd & 24th) and on April 25th I left my home and two little kids for a week to present at the Urban Sites Network Conference of the National Writing Project in Birmingham, Alabama and then on to be a discussant for a panel at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Oh, and I squeezed in my cousin’s wedding in California, too.

It. was. exhausting. I am only now starting to feel some relief from it all.

And, in addition to the stress of organizing it all, I felt guilty about the students missing class. We cancelled classes for all of Tuesday afternoon on the 23rd for the House 4 faulty/staff to attend World Book Night and we cancelled the third class on Wednesday for Jean’s presentation. I felt bad about missing instructional time, especially because they weren’t missing MY classes but my colleagues’. Even though I offered my classes up for I was in California (and they were taken by my colleagues for make-up classes), I still felt a little dirty inside that I was putting both World Book Night and an author visit over instructional time.

That was, until we did both events.

Each event was transformative for the students and as educational as any classroom time might have been. I feel this so deeply.

During our winter term, I taught a class I had co-written called Arts in NYC. Each week, we visited a different museum. I watched the students grow as thinkers, speakers, and writers in crazy leaps–leaps that didn’t really make sense to me as an educator. Were they really developing those skills so quickly? What was causing such development? Weekly visits to museums and conversations with each other and me couldn’t foster such growth…or could it?

I am not sure, but as I mentioned in each post, I could feel the students learning and thinking and rearranging their preconceived ideas during the events of World Book Night and Jean Kwok’s visit. Both events necessitated that we cancel classes and use class time for learning in a different way.

It was so worthwhile.

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