This fall semester, I’ll be teaching literary analysis–my university’s second-semester composition course. It’s been a few semesters since I’ve taught this course, so I’m compelled to really change it up, especially since I’ve been immersing myself in blogs about flipping and disrupting all things pedagogy (By the way, I think the composition classroom, a necessarily active and hands-on environment, has always been flipped). I’ve enjoyed reading what others have done, plan to do, and are currently working through. Indeed, I’ve been quite the student lately! Which leads me to the plan for my course “upset.” Besides updating the way my students interact with the literature (twitter, blogging), I plan to flip/disrupt myself. That’s right. I’ll be a student in my own class.
Everything we read will be something I’ve never read. Thus, I will read and discover right along with my students. Indeed, I won’t come to them prepared to teach. I will come to them prepared to learn. I won’t be able to go as far as writing all of the papers because I’m writing a dissertation and also have a writing center to run, but whatever writing is done in class, I’ll do too. . . and not at the front of the room but in an available desk when possible. I know that I’ll need to maintain a sufficient level of authority in order to maintain a productive and respectful environment, so I’ll share the students’ classroom space only when appropriate and stay in mine when necessary. Disrupting my role as instructor/expert/authority, thus disrupting my students’ roles and expectations, will change the corporeal dynamic of the course, which in turn will hopefully influence the academic dynamic.
With a background in dance and an academic interest in forms of corporeal rhetoric, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to “corporealize” composition–not just in topic (done that) but in method. Maybe by first focusing on the bodies in the classroom, specifically their roles and the spaces they inhabit, I’ll begin to figure out how to incorporate physicality into the teaching and learning of writing. Hopefully, such physical disruption will positively influence student engagement, confidence, and learning and will help reinforce the idea that students should be responsible for their learning and, as part of the higher ed and class community, for the learning of their peers, as well.
By becoming a student in my own class, I’m sure that I’ll learn from my students. When this happens, they will certainly know.