“It’s a real privilege to have talented friends”

Back in spring of 2015, I was looking for fresh material to bring into my composition classroom, and I happened to have a batch of students who were itching to break out of the essay rut and write in response to some literature. So I shared some widely-anthologized essays and some interesting editorials from major newspapers, butContinue reading ““It’s a real privilege to have talented friends””

Upcoming appearances and events

Things are picking up again, gang, so if you haven’t been keeping tabs on my Events page or my Facebook or Twitter accounts, you might like to know about a couple of upcoming events in my calendar: First up is brand-new: this weekend, I’ll be selling books at the Blue Skirt Press Spring Pop-Up Fair in theContinue reading “Upcoming appearances and events”

My mother, my teacher

I just learned that my mother, a retired teacher with a 35-year career in elementary and middle-school classrooms, was a guest on Episode 14 of The Teaching Experience Podcast!   In the interview, my mom talks about her lifelong love of teaching and learning, her devotion to teaching each student according to the context of that student’sContinue reading “My mother, my teacher”

Feeling thankful for my students

I held classes on Wednesday. At our community college, we’re on a quarter system and only have ten weeks or so per course, and in a writing class, that’s never enough, so we need to use all the days we can. Of course, the day before Thanksgiving, many of my students understandably take off to visit familyContinue reading “Feeling thankful for my students”

We are Umpqua Community College

This morning, a young man went to the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, walked into a writing classroom, and opened fire. As I write this, the most common reports are that twenty people are wounded, and thirteen people are dead, including the writing teacher. I teach at Chemeketa Community College; today, IContinue reading “We are Umpqua Community College”

On teaching writing, and teaching, and writing

I know a few teaching writers — a lot, if I’m honest — who have often bemoaned their composition courses. They understand the necessity of composition courses and don’t mind teaching them from time to time, but (these writers sometimes confess to me) they would much rather be teaching advanced literature or creative writing. I don’t blame them.Continue reading “On teaching writing, and teaching, and writing”

Faculty Spotlight: me!

Every few weeks or so, the community college where I teach selects a couple of faculty members to highlight by posting a photo of them in the hallway alongside a kind of Q&A about their personal life. It’s a fun way for the students to get to know their teachers and for us faculty to get toContinue reading “Faculty Spotlight: me!”

AWP Minneapolis wrap-up: my students respond

Back from Minneapolis less than 24 hours and I was in my classroom, rearranging the tables and spreading out all my books, magazines, brochures, business cards, submission flyers, notebooks, pens, fake tattoos, noisemakers, and buttons, creating my own miniature bookfair for my students. And yes, I let them take a lot of what I brought back (but not myContinue reading “AWP Minneapolis wrap-up: my students respond”

AWP Minneapolis: Day 2 — panels and panels and panels

Today was the best kind of whirlwind. I was tired enough from last night that I wasn’t sure I would make it to my first panel at 9 am(!) but registration went fast and I’m damn glad I got to that first panel on writing personal essays in the Internet age. I was already lookingContinue reading “AWP Minneapolis: Day 2 — panels and panels and panels”