Kourtnie.net

Kourtnie McKenzie-Williams. Writer. Artist. Educator.

I ❤ Teaching College

I keep toying with the idea of starting a vlog.

I’m pretty sure I’m starting a vlog this summer, when I’m not teaching.

Teaching Plans

Also, I’m teaching at Clovis Community College and Fresno City College in the fall semester, so I’m spending summer preparing new curriculum. At Clovis Community College, we’ll be studying Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven alongside a humor-based textbook released just this year, Janzen’s Squeeze the Sponge;

Meanwhile, at Fresno City, we’ll study Rereading America and Carr’s The Shallows, texts I feel more familiar with teaching.

I curriculum design this way every semester… teaching one class with old practices (improving, refining), then trying out new practices in another class (experimenting, play-testing). It’s not campus-specific, either; it just happens that the first class I receive, I structure around ritual; and whatever class I pick up second, I use to explore new pedagogic materials, practices, and discussions.

To put it another way, the first class I’m assigned gets the good ol’ stuff, while the second class becomes a refreshing, reframing experience with whatever ideas I have on hand.

Curriculum design is one of my favorite parts of teaching.

The Rotation of Old and New

For example, this semester, I kept with the same texts at College of the Sequoias, and changed up the texts I used at Fresno City College, but that was because I knew about my vocabulary course before my critical thinking course.

The semester before, I used all-new texts at College of the Sequoias, since the vocabulary course was a new and last-minute thing; but my Fresno City College texts paralleled the ones I enjoyed at Madera College, since I had already secured employment there.

Want to Read My Book Selections?

Here are links to these texts, in case you’re interested in any of them… I found out if you purchase paper, e-book, or audiobook editions through this site, it still registers as an affiliated sale, so you’re not bound to my recommended formats or editions, either.


Affiliate?

I plan to write more about how affiliate purchases work in the near future, as well as how Patreon operates—in case you’re curious about my plans on “blogging for living” (I know I’m curious about whatever plans I have for blogging for a living 😅)—and I’ll be writing about that here at the launchpad, since this is the space I’ve dedicated to my reading, writing and teaching philosophies, ethics, and practices.

I’d say the topic “monetizing blogging” falls into the categories “writing” and “practices.”

Cleo’s Autism Awareness, as a counterexample, is the space I’ve dedicated to special interests, experiences, and values, based on being an autistic woman; so it’s becoming, more and more, my warm and pathos-driven place. (And I’ve been putting most of my writing energy into it lately, given Autism Awareness Month.)

It’s normal for autistic people to categorize, organize—then recategorize, reorganize, ritualistically—and this is why so many of us are misdiagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Creativity is Suffocated in K-12

When you teach K-12, you are given specific materials, and even books that tell you what to say to students as you introduce those materials. And deviation from this cold-pressed process upsets half your administration, while the other half teach you ways to maneuver the loopholes.

I think I spent too much time trying to logically assess why the loopholes are there.

When you teach college, you’re given a guideline of class requirements, including assignment lengths, types, and suggested literature—and I discovered many of my textbooks, including Rereading America, because of these helpful “suggested materials” lists—but they’re just that: suggestions.

If you have a better method for teaching, as long as you’re meeting the guidelines—as long as your students are expected to write just as much, and just as well, as any other college student of their level—you’re golden. Colleges recognize that professors are not robotic, but humanistic, and if you want your students to be warmed by their humanistic, then humanistic expectations of your teachers are the best choice.

I could not figure out why K-12 hadn’t adopted this practice.

Of course, in college, your texts go through an approval processes. Community colleges don’t just let their adjunct professors run around rampantly, doing whatever nilly-willy.

Other professors come to our classrooms, observe us, and collect feedback from students. Administration reviews our book orders, syllabi, and hold meetings as necessary to normalize our standards. I feel this makes a warm and wholesome process to the whole curriculum designing experience.

Also, administrative reviews are explained beforehand, make sense logically, and lead to fruitful conversations…

Yet in K-12 (and this was the nail that splintered my coffin), I had administrators—vice principals, principals, and regional managers—show up abruptly, without much explanation about the process at all, then watch my class with a scowl.

They gather no feedback from students, other than broad, annual surveys.

They hold more meetings about turning us into “classroom managers” than understanding the intellectual process behind their standards. They could give a hoot if you don’t think you can teach effectively with their required materials.

If they decide to meet with you about their visit to your classroom, it’s unpleasant. So at best, you don’t know what happened; at worst… free speech is not enough to liberate the fear of sharing from you.

Adjunct professorship has its own problems, but they’re more tolerable than K-12, at least for someone who values curriculum design, autonomy, and providing learning experiences that are more valuable to students than to the men who profit from students being marked “present.”

When I adjunct, I don’t feel like I’m compromising my beliefs, my students, and our mutual creativity.

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