What Is Your Class About?

All, Teaching

I am in the wonderful honeymoon phase of teaching when all things are possible. I am planning my summer class (which starts in less than three weeks but I’m not worrying about that right now) and already thinking about to the fall semester (because I am exactly that kind of teacher nerd). This experience has me thinking about the principles that guide my planning. I’ve written before about some of the ideas that inform my class planning, but I am feeling the need to refine my process. In some ways, it will mean starting over, although everything that has gone before will certainly influence this outcome as I am hardly working in a vacuum. I have been thinking a lot lately about James Paul Gee and gamification – in particular how I want his ideas to play out in my classroom. When we are discussing video games, or classes according to Gee, the central question is what is the game or class about?

As a writing instructor, my classes are always about writing whether I am teaching first-year students in developmental writing, Writing I, or First Year Seminar and whether I am teaching upper level students in professional writing and whether I am teaching teachers in the Morehead Writing Project. In every class my primary goal and focus is on creating and supporting writers and their work. That is the focus of every class, every lesson, and every assignment.

I think when things get muddled it is usually because I lost sight of this essential goal. I’m going to have to work harder to make sure this goal is forever in front of my students and myself, so we can all stay on course and hold each other accountable. When was the last time you really thought about what your class is about? Can you sum up the content of your class in one sentence?

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