bright pink ink

10 11 2004

picture this: i’m wandering around the classroom checking in on the work my students are doing in a relatively quick/fun/easy small-group exercise, dropping in and out of little chats with groups as i go by. i walk by kerry’s group, and talk to them about something (i’ve already forgotten what), and then turn to dietrich’s group to see how they’re doing. i ask some question of them; while jenny’s answering me, kerry quasi-interrupts (since jenny doesn’t stop talking and i don’t turn away from listening) to ask me if i can e-mail her something tonight since she can’t access our online classroom from home. without verbally acknowledging her, i hold my hand out, in a fist, fingers down, over top of the surface of the paper she was writing on. it takes her a second, then she says “let me get a pen,” (i hadn’t paid enough attention to notice she’d been writing in pencil), and as i’m turning to check in on the next group over, she writes “e-mail kerry’s paper! :)” on my hand in bright pink ink. “thank you,” i say, still not looking at her, because someone else is saying something i’m supposed to hear, and i walk on around the room.

i’m sure that this is highly “unprofessional” behavior by at least one if not six or seven different sets of criteria i’ve been introduced to in my educator-education. the students are not, i’m sure, supposed to write on the teacher. i didn’t stop to think about whether or not it was professional, and i didn’t stop to think about whether the gesture would make sense to kerry–i certainly didn’t teach her this! but we’re all still close enough to being in the same generation that the nonverbal communication methods we learned in jr. high & high school are the same, or close enough to make no difference. she hesitated because she had the wrong implement in hand, not because she wasn’t sure what i was doing. this is, i think, the thing i love best about being a teacher and interacting with students: moments of pure person-to-person interaction with communication as their focus. not grades, not who-dispenses-the-knowledge, not anna looking at me with big, blinky eyes and saying in her most winning voice “you’re the teacher, you’re supposed to teach us!” certainly not saying the same thing for the seventeenth time in paper-comments or assigning grades i know are going to hurt because i can’t ethically justify doing anything else in response to a paper that doesn’t do what the assignment calls for…

we have teacher-words for this, of course. in college we usually call it “rapport,” because that sounds all smart–in phd school we might talk about belonging to contiguous discourse communities or sharing non-verbal cultural/rhetorical capital, because that makes us sound so much smarter we might just outsmart ourselves. when i was a middle-school teacher, in those teacher-textbooks it was called “with-itness.” & for all that i’m culturally out of every loop my own social circle ever tries to draw for me, i’m pretty damn good at classroom “with-itness.” i worry sometimes if it isn’t just because i’m still this young, though; is this a comodity that gets used up? will there come a time when they don’t write on each others’ hands in ink anymore, and so my gesture will no longer speak? will there come a time when my hand, by simple virtue of being wrinkly, won’t be an acceptable writing surface no matter what the gesture means when the young ones use it?

>sigh< i love my students. i just handed papers back electronically. a good half of them are going to be hating me when i see them next (friday). i'm sorry in advance. i also have a huge stack of portfolios to grade tomorrow. and (ha ha) my own work, somewhere, dwarfed almost off the map by my priorities–the things i care about just have to come first. the people. the students. with the loopy handwriting and the bright pink ink.

p.s. this is metalmonkey‘s fault; my academic priorities and i don’t have time for such tomfoolery. If there is someone on your friends list who you would either like to tie down and have your way with, teasing them mercilessly and making them beg for release, or have them tie YOU down, post this exact same sentence in your journal.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

9 responses

11 11 2004
Anonymous

Definitely the first draft of the intro to your diss
:))
senioritis

11 11 2004
message_2love

true youth is not a degenerating condition
I have a friend at work who is 48. he once said “you, Tatiana, and me are the only young people in this whole company.” Tatiana is 62, and this is an accurate statement. if you’re young, you’re young. period. now, about the wrinkly hands, there’s not much we can do about that. as your skin wrinkles, you’ll have to wear Chuck Taylor’s and just have your students write on them.

11 11 2004
bluemeg

Re: true youth is not a degenerating condition
I very much agree with this. Young is an attitude. I don’t think it is a disadvantage either. YOung to me speaks of being happy and fun things to do, and enjoying just about everything. sounds like a great life!

11 11 2004
pictsy

I think if were in her position I would have no idea what you were doing, but I think it’s cool that she knew 🙂

11 11 2004
susanmarie

“in phd school we might talk about belonging to contiguous discourse communities or sharing non-verbal cultural/rhetorical capital, because that makes us sound so much smarter we might just outsmart ourselves”
Ewwww…Whose phd school are you in, anywho? “Contiguous”? Does anyone use that to describe anything other than the lower 48? “Capital”? Are we W?
Tell me who’s talkin’ like this, and I’ll send them a whoopie cushion.

11 11 2004
tyra

Are we W?
i think you might possibly have just said the most horrible thing EVER. the whoopie cushion just might make up for it, though. i’ll think about it. u dunno, though. you might be getting poxes.

11 11 2004
reedrover

i worry sometimes if it isn’t just because i’m still this young, though; is this a comodity that gets used up? … will there come a time when my hand, by simple virtue of being wrinkly, won’t be an acceptable writing surface no matter what the gesture means when the young ones use it?
Have you ever considered writing for NPR commentary? There is an older southern lady who sounds like you write — she talks about being older on the outside than on the inside, and the connections that people have to make before they can see past that shell.

13 11 2004
donnickcottage

I wish you were my teacher. I’d write a poem on your hand every day; in whatever color ink you liked:)
Of course, I’m a little verbose so I might need your arm too, but I’d promise I wouldn’t make more than shoulder length verses cuz I know there’s rules against that…professionally speaking.

14 11 2004
tyra

thank you. 🙂
i’d find shoulder-length verses amusing, but, um… yeah. i think my supervisors would probably take exception to even that much ink. they DO talk an awful lot about “embodiment,” though. i could do my dissertation on embodied teaching, & let students write all over me! yes! it would be like theoretical scholarship and performance art all rolled into one!
ok, i’m having way too much fun w/this idea. back to grading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: