Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lifelong learners, even where you might not expect them

There's some coolness with being an adjunct.  Para ejemplo, I don't have anything to grade right now.  If I was in a public school, I'd be swamped with 6 classes of daily work.  Tambien, I can fairly dictate my schedule, which means no babysitting necessary.  Tambien tambien, I don't have to hold hands with my students quite so tightly as jobs past.  It's okay, and I understand the need to do so.  But there's also a point when a student just has to do some work.  Dig me?

But I'm also here to state that as an adjunct-io, that's also one of the worst things.  I want to hold some hands, but once class is dismissed, those warm bodies in the seats just disappear.  There's not as much ability to communicate outside of the classroom doors, and that can be wildly frustrating when students go AWOL once November shows up on the top of the calendar. 

There are a couple of things that are incomprehensible to me.  First, why do students not drop a class if they have no intent to come?  I have students still on my rosters whom I haven't seen since week 1...it's week 14.  Second, why do students disappear 2/3 of the way through the semester?  Really.  Why? 

But for the 10 students who defy expectations, there are 10 who meet it in fine form.  These are the lifelong learners who are bound and determined to not only pass the class, but to pass it with much success.  (Granted, these are also the ones who sometimes quibble over minutia.)  And, these students are so much fun to work with. 

I didn't really have much familiarity with the phrase "lifelong learner" until I got to college, at which time I saw in action from dozens of committed, purposeful individuals the inspiring quality of what it means to believe in learning as a way of life.  Why else would my classes be widely populated with individuals who are at least 40 years old?  How very, very cool it is to hear their stories, to hear the variety of motivations that lead these adults into my classroom.  And keep in mind, my classes are ones that are gen-eds, and no one (l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y) cares two rips about what I am teaching.  They come in because it is required of them, sure.  But, they come in because they care about the process of learning, about making the quality of their life better, about changing their life in whatever way they need to do so. 

That's enough to keep me going, to keep me hashing out the ins and outs of comma rules and topic sentences.  Sure, it gets a little old repeating "A thesis has to be debatable..." two hundred times (a class), but you know, so what?  It's nothing compared with the life adventures of many a student who endures me for three hours a week. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

carrots, carrots, everywhere

The first part of this story is mundane enough: I went grocery shopping.  Who's not besides them in rabid jealousy by that statement?  I know that I'm on the edge of my chair just waiting to read what I'm going to write next.  (I got the mail today!  I started the dishwasher earlier!  I need to go fold towels now!  Riveting, right?)

Yet in my grocery shopping excursion, I happened upon something that I had never seen before: a 14-pound bag of organic carrots.  And I wasn't wandering the aisles of a mega-warehouse-extravaganza-supermarket.  No, no...just the regular old grocery store about a mile down the road (which  has turned into a 3 mile detour after tornado season in these parts of the world). 

I made it through my normal route before remembering that I forgot onions, so I hurried my way back to the produce section.  My standard grocery store sometimes has reduced produce tucked into a little nook by the pomegranate-y type juices.  Nine visits out of ten, I don't really pay much attention to it as, you know, produce has a pretty quick expiration date.  But once in a while, I'll find something pretty snifty like 5 peppers for $1.28 (um, freezer!).  This time...jackpot. 

Fourteen pounds of organic carrots. 

This has led to my recent allrecipes search for all things carrot.  Soup?  Muffins?  Cake?  Yes, please.  There will be feasting on all things carrot and much rejoicing.  Anyone have a unique way to use copious amounts of carrots that you want to share?  Like a bunny, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book on tape jammin'

***I meant to publish this a few days ago but, apparently, I only saved it as a draft.***

This week, I finished teaching my 2nd 5-week course at a location that is 96 miles away per mapquest, which is more often than not my guide to the universe.  The first week was okay driving the 1 hour and 45 minute each way route, which turned into about 3 hours and 30 minutes of my favorite CDs from years past.  (On a recent-ish trip to visit a friend, which is about 2 hours each way, it was all Dave Matthews, all the time.  Even for me, that was about my limit.)  After that first trip, I was already starting to feel a little dready, like "Ugh, this hours upon hours of CDs is going to get a little bit old after a while."  It's not that I don't enjoy some good alone-by-myself-in-the-car-jamming upon occasion, but I just wasn't feeling it for 9 more weeks.

Enter the boy, who was all "Duh, books on tape..." with me but in a nice way.  I tell you, if I hadn't already married him...  Good ideas, sometimes, does that one have.  Hence, I booked it (I'm oh, so punny) to the library and got a couple of books on CD (book on tape...psshhh) and my wishful longing for a nice long roadtrip commenced.  I think that I could easily drive somewhere far, far, far away by myself with a few good books to join me for my traveling companion.  Once, seemingly forever ago, before children (just to emphasize my point about forever ago), the boy and I took a real, honest-to-goodness vacation whereupon he basically forced me to camp for a week in order to justify the gas as we were thinking a cross country journey seemed like a good plan when gas was well upwards of $3/gallon.  And he is almost anti-flying because he a) thinks it's too expensive and b) likes to drive.  Did I willingly join these foolish notions for better or for worse?  This proves beyond a doubt that he is just wrong sometimes/often/usually.  Suckered in by the notion of fresh crab and authentic lobster rolls, we loaded up the no-longer-with-us Accord and brought Harry Potter audibly along for the ride.  That was the only way that my sanity was not shredded by riding with Mr. Twitchy for hours on end in a small, over packed space (camping gear, you are bulky).  It was brilliant!  I distinctly remember idling into our camp site one rainy night after we ditched the cold, saturated tent in favor of Ratatouille for the mere price of $20.  Yep...vacation time, and we went to the movies.  Yet the point here is that were idling into our camp site.  Crawling.  Creeping.  Trying to listen to the end of a chapter right at the very tensest of Harry Potter moments.  It was soul satisfying.

You know what else suffuses my soul with warm fuzzies?  Listening to a book on CD, alone, for 3 1/2 hours once a week and then every other time I need to go somewhere by myself.  Believe me here when I say that I volunteered for every...possible...errand that allowed me to drive alone for these few weeks.  Case in point, one of us needed to drive to a city an hour away to pick up a dresser that I found on Craigslist for the toddler bean's room.  Round trip, that's 2 hours of quality book time.  Yes, please.  AND, I don't know if it's just me now noticing it, but this fall has been seriously gorgeous with the colors around here.  Let's put this all together: vividly beautiful colors, warm sunny afternoon, book on CD, no kids in car...B-L-I-S-S.

Granted, the book that I just finished this week wasn't the best one I've chosen and sometimes I think that I don't get as excited about the book depending on who is reading it, but overall, B-L-I-S-S.

(you know, bliss...)