Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sanity 101


I love teaching creative writing. I don't care how shitty I feel (this has been a particularly rough year in my personal life), once I walk into the classroom, I get a shot of energy. It's a blast to turn people on to writing, creativity, stories and poems.

I have noticed in the past few years, though, that some students (usually a handful in a class) don't understand (or ignore) the nature of the classroom community. They either don't care, or don't realize, that being late, or walking out in the middle of class, or perpetually turning in late work is distracting--not just to me, but to the entire group. (Or maybe a handful of my students have always been this way, but now that I'm "middle aged" I bemoan it more.)

I wanted to find a way to deal with this next semester in a serious way, laced with humor. Calm assertive, as the Dog Whisperer says. So I've been working on the following to include in my syllabus. It will be interesting to see how my students respond. (Maybe some are reading this right now and are dropping the class as we speak.)

SANITY 101 for the Creative Writing Class
Please initial each item and sign at the end of this page.

_____ 1. I will not turn in late work, nor will I attempt to turn in late work for credit.

_____ 2. I will not be absent from class and then email Kate with the question, “What did I miss?” I will take responsibility for any unfortunate absence and contact several classmates to find out a) what happened in class and b) what’s due next time. Bottom line: I will not make my absences extra work for Kate.

_____ 3. If I have any confusion about something and need extra help for any reason, I will contact Kate—but not by email at 5:58 p.m. on the day a 6 p.m. class meets. If I want to talk 1:1 with her, I realize she has office hours and is available by appointment.

_____ 4. I will not email assignments to Kate.

_____ 5. I will not get up in the middle of a lecture and walk out of the classroom.

_____ 6. I will not regularly cruise into class late.

_____ 7. I will not regularly cruise out of class early.

_____ 8. I will not bring into class foods that reek of garlic.

_____ 9. I will not bring a full meal into class. If I must eat, I will discretely eat a snack that is not contained in loud packaging.

_____ 10. I will make the day before things are due “printing day” so as to avoid the disaster of broken printers, not enough ink, etc. etc. (Or, if I do have technological problems when I waited until the last minute, I will say, “Ah, well, too bad for me.”) This will be much less stressful, and I will thank Kate for adding an extra five years to my life.

_____ 11. I will forgo my addiction to/love for electronics during class. I will not text-message my lover, cruise the Internet for porn, update my blog, check on my stocks, etc. during class. I will honor that this is a no-tech class.

_____ 12. I will not manufacture a dying or dead grandmother, dog, boyfriend, sister-in-law, former best friend’s cousin’s pet iguana or other death or serious injury in order to try to appeal to Kate’s niceness for exceptions to any of the above.

_____ 13. I will not manufacture a psychological disorder or physical ailment in order to appeal to Kate’s niceness for exceptions to any of the above.

_____ 14. I will not beg.

_____ 15. I will do my best to come to class prepared—and prepared to have fun.
Signed:____________________________
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