sometimes it's me

I was worried about how class would go today. I knew students weren't completely on board with the text. I brought in Lopate on Amy and Marie's suggestion and we talked a bit about the genre of personal essay. I never know how these discussions really go because I always feel like I say too much. And I've spent this week observing other people's classes so I feel like I'm in "observation" mode, meaning I'm thinking what I would say about my own class. I encourage my PA group members to keep teaching journals because I think being reflective about your own teaching is important to being a good teacher. But the level of observing one's self I started going to once class was over was a bit much. The bottom line is I'm still struggling on how to successfully facilitate class discussion. I want students to argue with and question the texts they read but I want them to do so critically. So today I spent the time pushing them, why did you find yourself uncomfortable reading this essay? What was too honest about it? What do you mean by too honest? Let's talk about honesty, for a minute. Finally I told them I was doing more work than they were. It finally came around, I think. We have more books to read so maybe my discussion skills will get better as we go. I really want them to create knowledge and connections for themselves but there are days I just get blank stares. Sometimes it's the time of day; sometimes it's the text and sometimes it's me.

I loved the Sedaris text. I was caught off guard, not by the honesty, but the poignancy with which I reacted to "Repeat after Me," one of the essays in the collection. Perhaps it's because I have such a close relationship with my brother or perhaps it's because I'm working on my own narrative about my family. (Which honestly, I think would work better as disconnected essays.) We talked A LOT today about privileging stories and who's stories get privileged. We debated about class expectations and in which class Sedaris placed himself. I really love my students this semester. But god, today felt like WORK.