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As a future First-year composition instructor, I find it most important to teach students through relatable materials like social media, music, and other forms of pop culture. By allowing students to make valuable connections with materials they interact with every day, they have a chance to make valuable connections outside of the classroom. By attempting to make connections based on what they’re selecting to examine for papers and to their potential careers, I want students to think about how writing in their potential career field, and everyday writing, can be impacted by how they’re writing in the classroom. The goal is to see that writing, and the techniques used in the classroom, can be transitioned for any context and nearly any type of writing. By doing so, my intentions are to show how writing is valuable and not a tedious task with a variety of grammar rules and formatting styles. 

In the classroom, I want students to find and use their narrative voices, which is the identity they use in various writing assignments,  to articulate their thoughts, ideas, and connections with classroom materials so they grow comfortable with discussing these connections and ideas when they leave the classroom. My course design proposal draft articulates that I plan on using “freewriting, journaling, and other reflective activities,” as a form of reflecting on the rhetorical choices they make to further develop their writing. I want students to find words and phrases that sound natural to the identity they’re using for their writing. I want them to understand, internally, when those words and phrases align with them and “feel” right to them as writers so they can continuously use these techniques and grow.

Personal Image. Paper, pens, and notes.

Students, when entering the classroom, should feel confident and comfortable with failing at a technique because it’s not really a failure, it’s an opportunity to grow. In other words, mistakes and unsuccessful connections are opportunities for students to make different connections and learn what technique don’t work for them. With help from peers and specific, detailed comments from myself, I want students to find ways to discuss what they’re seeing and experiencing for these improvements to take effect. Further, with practice through examination of class materials and reflection, students can navigate and explore their styles and employ the corrections necessary to push their writing further. In my classroom, it’s important to know that writers always have something to learn and develop regarding their writing styles and techniques.

With those few tasks laid out, I see an importance on focusing “on how to educate without overwhelming our students with a ton of work that they’ll end up forgetting by the end of the week” as stated in my blog Statements, Academic Freedoms, and FYC.  By selecting useful and valuable tools, My plan is to not overwhelm students and/or discourage them from learning about themselves and their connections to writing; therefore, my focus will be on ways students can find their own personal connections and identities with the material. Doing this may show them that writing in the classroom, when applied, can be enjoyable; even if it shows them that writing class is a place for exploration and creativity. With that being said, I plan on using different mediums, if possible, that veer away from the traditional pen and paper style of writing to get students into a creative mindset when making connections. In my blog post, Creativity and Innovation in FYC, I heavily discussed Shipka’s concepts of different materials to write with. I have, and will continuously, consider how students can use real life materials, like shirts and shoes, to make connections to writing and rhetorical elements they will learn in order to see the techniques they learned as something more than writing a paper for a required course. Therefore, pushing for multimodality and their own unique style of interacting with writing and English.

My mentor, Dr. Kristin Rajan, really helped influence my thoughts on how I want to grade and encourage interaction with students. I want to focus on mental health, by taking as much stress out of writing as possible, and allowing them to see that we all are learning together each and every day we show up ready to learn. I want them to know and understand that not only are they learning and growing, but I am as well, by being vulnerable and receptive, because writing isn’t something that is perfected, if done right. Because the FYC isn’t a place that focuses on grammar, improvement, or persuasion, as mentioned in my blog post The Do’s and Don’ts in the FYC, I will focus on writing techniques that help them develop and evolve their ideas for their future.

Colorful Notes

My assignments, with careful consideration, are focused on ensuring that students think about the choices they make, which allows me to not focus on those three mentioned points. Because students get to make the choice about what they write, my goal is to improve connections they’re making and helping them find the joys in composition courses and writing in general. Further, I want to encourage all different ideas and suggestions in the classroom because I want students to feel comfortable speaking up and potentially negotiating the space they’re occupying so they get the most out of the course, which is one of the true intentions of FYC courses. This is encouraged by conversations with peers and myself, their instructor, and continuous exposure to the materials and learning objectives to keep students, and myself focused on what’s going to happen, what’s happening, and what’s to come.

Overall, first year English composition classes can still be intriguing and enlightening. We can still show students ways to analyze the world around them and how they fit into this world, contextually and non-contextually, through valid and valuable connections that push past the basics of writing a paper because they have to. With everything presented in the class, from reflective assignments, such as journaling and freewriting, to analyzing pop culture material from social media and film, students are given new ways to experience the classroom. I invite students to look at the world as more than a source of entertainment, but as a place where you can be both entertained and educated. Students will be asked to be dependable and to depend on one another with feedback and finding new ways to think about concepts, ideas, and more. They’re encouraged to take the leaps of faith and trust themselves, and their ideas, when writing, articulating, and discussing new concepts that are unfamiliar.

My dog Miso

With the encouragement of “failing” and growing, students will be given low stake assignments that help them practice, while accumulating points towards their final grade. In class discussions will happen regarding certain materials, such as memes, social media posts, movies, TV shows, and more. These discussions will aid in helping students formulate ideas for their assignments and papers to explore and learn more about the topic and themselves as writers. When they complete their assignments, and once grades and feedback are received, they’ll be asked to reflect, for a completion grade, to find ways they can make more connections in their writing via a blog and/or a D2L discussion post. In addition, journals will help them explore what they’ve learned and formulate questions or points to bring up in class to create deeper conversations for all to grow from, and their freewriting exercises, which will be given a completion grade, will help students get their ideas out on paper free of judgement. The goal is to get students to think about how they’re writing and have them actively find ways to strengthen their sentences and their thoughts regarding whatever medium they’re referencing in the assignments.

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