Cloister Commentary, Day 47: A “More” Kind of Guy

I was made to miss teaching again yesterday when I had some interaction with two of my students’ work (and a smidgen with them). My Stephens students have truly struggled with this mess, but one of them, a stellar writer, thinker, and personality whom I met last year in tutoring, just nailed an argumentative research paper on the manga character Tomie (I am sure some of my former students who read this will need no explanation there). She wrote clearly and succinctly, engaged me from the first sentence, taught me things I didn’t know, and had no trouble with MLA citation. She made an A on the paper and in the class–but I wish we could have finished out the semester in person. Her wit made holding class fun.

I also helped a Battle student in the AVID program with a service project essay that’s coming due. She’s under time pressure, she had to babysit yesterday, and she couldn’t get some vital information to me until the late afternoon. By that point, I didn’t have time to give her meticulous editing feedback on the paper; all I could do was text her with 3-4 holistic suggestions, so I felt I’d failed her. However, on the return text volley, she “yelled” “That helps! I get it now! That really helps! Thanks!” A reminder I frequently need: sometimes less is more, and I’m constitutionally a “more” kind of guy (duh).

Speaking of teaching, I recently accepted a job teaching college-credit freshman comp to high school kids in a summer program Stephens College is introducing. I was (and am) a little hesitant, because after 36 years I KNOW I need the catalytic in-person dynamic with my students to really hit on all cylinders, and I’m unsure I can do that virtually. I have the structure in my head, the class “meets” 9-10 MTWTh, and during its eight weeks it should match a 16-week college comp class’ rigor. Do any of my social media friends with experience learning virtually or helping their kids learn virtually have any advice for me? Please comment below!

Still speaking of teaching (zzzzz), I believe Teacher Appreciation Day either happened recently or is coming up. I’d be nothing right now without some amazing teachers, and I’m deadly serious about that. In my high school pantheon: Lee Stevens, the first teacher (he was actually my basketball coach) to treat me like an adult, which I’d been ready for for several years, and Howard South, who amazingly casually unlocked my mind and confidence in his art classes. College: Frank Soos, who was teaching a lesson on Wordsworth when it clicked with me that I wanted to teach, too–he always made the work seem fun, challenging, and honorable–and Dr. Robert Reeser, who I immediately sized up as an ancient old fart on Day 1 and accordingly seated myself in the back of the class, and who by Day 2 had proved so astute, interesting, and funny that I moved to the middle of the front row, right in front of him. Never took a note–just listened, absorbed, and hungrily took his Western civ tests, and I signed up for him second semester though I didn’t have to. I bow in gratitude to you all.

It’s also Nurse’s Appreciation Day. My late mother-in-law Lynda was a hard-working nurse, and every year at this time we have the extreme pleasure of selecting two 12th grade nursing students for scholarships in her honor. Thank all you nurses out there for your selfless, expert, and essential efforts!

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Nicole and I sat on the back deck with our outdoor cats and listened to “The Black Angel with the Velvet Voice,” Cuba’s Armando Garzón. Click and you will hear why:

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