Wingate University‘s Annual Shakespeare Competition was an amazing success! The judges were all so impressed with the level of talent that our area’s middle school and high school students displayed during their performances. We appreciate all of the middle school and high school teachers who emphasize the value of interpreting and performing Shakespeare and make time in their busy schedules to prepare their students for the competition. We are grateful to everyone at Wingate University, Wingate University Department of English, and in our community who helped out on Thursday. Special thanks to Wingate Today, Carolina Impact (WTVI PBS), and FOX46 Carolinas for joining us for our 30th Anniversary of the competition! Opera Carolina, UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, and Wingate’s The Batte Center for the Performing Arts also generously donated complimentary tickets to popular performances as prizes for our winners and their teachers. And Wingate’s Office of Admissions provided gift bags for all of the participants and their teachers and offered scholarships to the first, second, and third-place winners in the high school division. We look forward to hosting the competition again next year!
. . . she makes a very loud sound.
A few weeks ago, the night before our first snow, I stayed late at work to get some tasks squared away so that I would be on top of my to-do list in the event that school was canceled. As I opened the hall door to step outside, I noted that it had begun snowing (OK, so really sleeting, but we will call it snow). I was prepared: with my tailored, long tweed coat snugly buttoned up and my gloved hands tightly wrapped around my over-sized purse, I made my way across the diagonal path of our quad’s sidewalks to my car. Despite the wet weather, my steps were fast and sure, as I anticipated the warmth of my car. There was only one problem: I was wearing these fabulously cute black fur boots that my mom had loaned me, and well, my ankles were too narrow for the heel.
Before I knew it, I was flat on my face in the middle of the quad. Luckily, I had weighed myself down with books and folders, thinking that I would get ahead on work during the snow day. The twenty pounds of pages broke my fall and prevented me from destroying my phone. While I usually think of the quad as a place to say hello to students and faculty in passing as I hurry to class, that night, I thought of it as a public place of embarrassment.
I had fallen, not because of the wet ground or the sleet but because I had been walking too fast in fashionable shoes that did not fit me. I was mortified (but only briefly). I scrambled to pick up books, papers, and pens as I inwardly winced at the pain that shot through my freshly bruised palms and knees. Fortunately, I didn’t think anyone was outside in the quad to see me fall, and beyond my pride, I was not actually hurt. I did hear a door shut right before I landed face down in a heap, and after my awkward plummet, two girls, gleefully elated over the first snow, exited Alumni Hall. But no one ran up to me asking if I was hurt.
A second thought then occurred to me: perhaps the two girls did see and perhaps that door that shut a split second before I fell also sheltered someone who saw my embarrassing stumble. I said a thankful prayer that it was dark, and that either everyone was too preoccupied with the snow to notice a very loud scream of “OUCH!” echoing across the quad or that they had the Southern grace to pretend not to notice that I fell once they saw that I was alright.
The quad, a place where I gather my thoughts before walking into the classroom or smile at students as I pass them by, is also a place for watching my step more carefully at night. At least, now, when I am carrying an armful of books and papers that I may or may not get through in one night, I can tell myself that it is simply for my own good, as those pages are intended to cushion my landing should I fall again, which since I am a klutz, will more than likely happen.
So I have a confession to make. For awhile now, I have not been posting much because I have been struggling to think about who my audience is for this blog. Friends who want to know more about what I do? Other educators who may stumble upon my blog? Students who want to know more about me? Posting about what I teach at times has felt forced and more of a diary for myself than something for other people to view. This feeling troubles me because I ask my desktop publishing students to create and keep up with blogs. Of course, I let them have free reign over what they would like to blog about, and I have thought about that for my own writing. Would I be more likely to post about life as a quasi-vegan, mostly gluten-free professor or to have a blog where I review films? Perhaps. Could I motivate myself to realize my aspiration of becoming an amateur triathlete or marathon runner by posting about my fitness goals so that the thought of readers in the blogosphere would hold me accountable? That sounds overly ambitious for winter, not to mention physically exhausting at the beginning of the semester.
I think that there is value in posting about my teaching and research, regardless of who my audience is, yet I have been lacking inspiration, or a tangible touchstone, that would create more of a focus for this blog that goes beyond “Here’s what I taught or researched this week.”
The answer or inspiration came to me when I was driving home. I am incredibly attached, like many people, to places and spaces–some for nostalgic reasons and others for functionality. So I will now write about these spaces, buildings, corners, and other places and their connections to my work. Starting now. Clearly, my desk is not the most breathtaking view or beautiful space that I could write about for my first new post, but this space is quite functional. My sturdy desk, which rivals a mammoth when it comes to weight, is both comfortable and spacious.
This is a picture of my desk when I have all (or nearly all) of my technology up and running to grade and comment on students’ work. I love technology. Sometimes, I fear that my love for technology can be a distraction from getting the work done in a more efficient manner, but I know that when I learn a new app or new program that will help me provide feedback for students or teach them something new, I am not only commenting on my students’ work or finding new learning methods, but I am also enriching my educational experience, which is important to me.
Even though I am an Assistant Professor of English, I have never thought of myself as a stickler for grammar rules. My twenty-first century composition pedagogy classes encouraged me to focus on an essay’s content over the mechanics, and I think of myself as a teacher who appreciates well-developed paragraphs more than perfect grammar. This week, however, I revised our department’s diagnostic grammar test, the pre-test that we give our students at Wingate, and I discovered, to my shock, that I was having fun revising the test. Imagine my surprise. I approached the task with dread, thinking that I was going to be frustrated with the grammatical nuances that the test, which had not been redesigned in awhile, focused upon; imagining my students wading through the “he” versus “him” questions; and picturing myself failing to convert my students into writers who cared about commas. Yet I soon realized that I enjoyed redesigning the questions and thinking about how I will discuss the correct answers with my students after they take the test.
Of course, I had excellent English teachers in middle school and high school, who drilled the rules into my head, and professors, editors, reviewers, and friends now let me know when I have wandered off the path of grammatical correctness. Even as I write this, I imagine that there are at least a few writers and friends out there who will correct the grammar of my blog post. Bring it: I welcome your corrections. Yet, [just kidding about that comma] I realized in rewriting this test that I have internalized some rules so much that I do not think about them or my affection for grammar. Therefore, I am now confessing that while I might not follow every rule in each email that I send or blog post that I submit, I love grammar. Stay tuned. My sentiments might change when I have to revise the post-test after receiving feedback on the pre-test. Let us hope that I will continue to channel my inner grammar girl and that near perfect punctuation prevails in the post-test!
Originally posted on Folger Theatre Production Diary:
Hello once again from your friend Louis Butelli, most recently Feste in Folger Theatre’s Twelfth Night. We closed our show on June 9 after a great run: thanks to everybody who came out to see us.
I’m back at the Folger to participate in an exciting new project – immersive audio recordings of the full Folger Editions of Shakespeare’s plays.
I meant to post this entry several weeks ago when the spring semester ended, but I got caught up in summer projects. Here are a few of my students’ blogs and websites from my Desktop Publishing class (English 256). Needless to say, I am proud of my students’ diverse interests, creativity, and professionalism and look forward to seeing where their future careers in editing, teaching, writing, and communications take them!
Please click on the following images to view my students’ portfolios:
Over the course of the semester, each student designed projects for various publishing and marketing purposes (magazine covers, advertising packages, resumes, and brochures), created and maintained a blog on wordpress or blogger, recorded screencasts, and developed a website portfolio using google sites or wordpress. I hope that you enjoy reading their portfolios as much as I did! I felt very lucky to have such a talented class and will post more web portfolio links in the near future.