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December 2, 2004

Another teacher's story

I got an email from Aleta Carpenter, with a recent story. I've got permission to post it here, and will add more soon. fyi - my students just watched and debriefed a "problematic moment" that came up in the original fishbowl discussion. They totally rock (!) and I had a few revelations, which I'll be sharing...

"I was lecturing in ComS 4, Introduction to Public Speaking; one of two sections I teach twice weekly.› The class is mainly comprised of first-year freshmen and is very diverse in its makeup (as are most classes at Sacramento State).› Two female students (one Hmong, the other Mexican) were whispering at a table in front of me, and as I looked at them inquiringly, one raised her hand and asked, žDo you have any children?Ó› I gave her (IŪm sure) an incredulous look and said, žI have one son and four stepsonsůwhatEVER does that have to do with visual aids?!?Ó› She replied, žWell, we were just talking here, and, like, you have, like, a better body than, like, either of us!Ó› (verbatim, as IŪm sure you can tell), whereupon one of the male students jumped in with žHey, she WORKS at it,Ó and another said, žYeah; do you know how many miles she runs?!Ó› I was speechlessůsomething that seldom happens (no pun intendedůthis is a speech class, after all)ůand went back to the topic at hand with a žWell, as I was saying . . .Ó but the whole exchange has been on my mind ever since.›

I know I have a very relaxed classroom style, compared to lifetime teachers, and as a mother and a grandmother, I treat my students much the way I treat the kids in my family (teasing, nagging, whatever the occasion calls for).› I spent many years as a lobbyist in California before retiring from the profession to return to graduate school and, now, to teach, so my wardrobe is possibly more professional than that of many other teachers because of my žother life.Ó› I am in good shape, due to genes (thanks, Momma) and a lifetime of working out or running.› Those are the other factors I think might have a bearing on the situation . . .

However, I was left wondering about several things:› How much attention DO students pay to their teachersŪ appearance?› How would this affect their interactions?› Does too much self-disclosure invite comments or discussion?› This is why I found your panel so interesting, following so closely on the heels of my experience.›

Interesting, huh?"

Posted by Steph at December 2, 2004 11:59 AM

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