Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Here's My Zumba Post, Y'all

I think about teaching a lot when I'm in Zumba. Probably because I'm in a constant state of learning: concentrating really hard, failing really hard,having fun, getting frustrated, laughing at myself, trying new stuff. And I've learned a LOT from my zumba teachers about what makes a good teacher, what makes a pretty good teacher, and what makes a teacher who is still figuring it out. (And yes, I'm slightly embarrassed to love Zumba so much. Is it the name? Is it the crazy outfits? Is it the dancing in the middle of the day under fluorescent lights? Whatever.)
Here are some basic observations about teaching that I have gleaned from Zumba. 1. Enthusiasm goes a long way. If the teacher is into it--I am into it. if she is half assing it--or worse seems embarrassed--then I am dying. 2.I need to admire my teacher.My favorite teachers are really strong dancers and it is evident that they have lots of dance training. I like to admire the person at the front of the room. I like to aspire. I don't want to be a show off but I do want to be--wholly and heartily--myself. I can show them who I am. Some will like it, some won't. So maybe what I learned it don't hold back from showing what you love and have invested your time and talents in. 3.Similarly, the best teachers do hard stuff sometimes. It doesn't always feel achievable.I have one teacher who will sometimes just dance to herself--it's clear we aren't going to be able to follow,but the music just takes her and she goes Sometimes I just watch in admiration and think How the hell does she do that? (I haven't quite figured out how to translate this to an English class.Heh.) 4. Love. A few of my Zumba teachers have told the class that they love us. The first time it happened, I was kind of...embarrassed? But I also kind of loved it. And then it happened again with a different teacher and I thought it was awesome. And then..I tried it with my students. I quickly said, at the end of class, "I love you guys" and it felt amazing. There's something really powerful about talking about love. It kind of changes everything. And it makes me feel vulnerable, which is good, but also powerful in a weird way.I also tell my students that I love my job, because I want them to know that. And I do. Truly, madly, deeply.

Monday, December 22, 2014

In the beginning there was shame

I'm jumping into the teacher blogger game. I'm enjoying reading the posts of my colleagues so much and stealing ideas and laughing and shaking my head in recognition so I better start adding my voice. Just a short reflection on grading and then I will press publish and see if this thing really works. First, my blog title. Uncle Kurt is a dear friend of mine, though we never met. He is a mentor and a guide and I love his face and his sweet bitterness and disgust and desire for us all to be better, godammit. Anyway, I was thinking about what to title this blog and I'm sort of coming down off of grading at the end of the semester and I have been thinking about vengeance grading. The kind of thing where I'm pissed cause some kid sat sideways in his chair all semester and turned in shoddily proofread papers and had so much potential and I didn't seem to reach it--we never really connected-- and it's all so much about my ego and my attachment to being this whiz of a professor. And then at the end I am gleeful that he only earned a C--gleefull!! (but only for a second) because then the shame hits and I'm like--why do you want to vengeance grade? And then I think of Uncle Kurt saying--godammit babies, you've got to be kind. And I want mine to be a pedagogy of kindness, but sometimes my ego and my own stuff gets all mixed up in it and I forget what it was to be 20 and jacked up on depression and angst and confusion and hormones. And how school was really not all that important sometimes. I was sad and I wandered lonely as a cloud and stuff. So I begin this blog as a sometimes jerk who wants to be a bit kinder.