Teaching Developmental Writing
This semester has been difficult for many reasons, but it has also been interesting. I have four classes of developmental writing, now about 80 students in all.
It is the first time in my life that I have taught the same class four times in a single day. I quickly learned that I had to keep them all together or I would never recover! Fortunately, the first class in pretty much typical of all my classes, so while I have a plan for the day, I use what I get done in that class as the final determiner of what we do in the others. I am following a fairly prescribed curriculum, and this has worked well so far. Some days I get a little extra practice in with one class or another, but they all do the same activities every day.
And that means, of course, that I am saying the same thing four times a day. One good thing is that each class definitely has its own personality, so work we do as a class always ends up taking a different direction in each class. That makes it a lot more interesting for me.
Unfortunately, the fact that the classes are all on the same page on the same day means I have 80 papers to grade at the same time. They do weekly in-class writing that I grade. There are four major writing assignments, each with 2 drafts and a cover letter that I grade. That means that two out of every three weeks I am grading 160 papers. That doesn’t count any smaller assignments I give them. I can usually get through 80 papers in 2 non-teaching days. 160 papers took me 4 non-teaching days over Labor Day.
But I love the students. Most of them take the class seriously, especially when they can see that they are making progress. I have one young man who insisted at the beginning of the semester that he wasn’t a writer and never would be. He is showing signs of being a pretty good writer, and he is starting to even believe it himself. I have some students whose writing just needs polishing, and they are making real progress, too. Of course, there are some who have more serious issues, and writing is still largely a mystery for them. Others, too, aren’t taking it too seriously, and their progress isn’t as dramatic as I know it could be.
All in all, the semester is exhausting but exhilarating. I teach 3 days a week — unfortunately, three consecutive days — and come home literally ready to collapse, but I am always eager to go back and do it all over again the following day.
After my bad experiences last year, I am happy to discover that I do still love teaching. I only hope I can find a way to continue teaching after this final year here.