February 18, 2011

Are Group Projects Really THAT necessary?

Lately, I've been writing so much that I can hardly keep up. What's discombobulating though, is that I've been writing lesson plans, feedback notes, professional development plans, and all other responsibilities known to the teaching world as "meeting expectations".

I've lost count of how many colleges I work for. The over/under is on one hand. I bounce between online and campus on such a daily basis that faculty meetings often overlap time working with another school, grading deadlines compete with my availability.

Knocked out of this list of priorities I've been juggling since the new year is my fiction. When I gave up the lure of being a sports reporter last fall, I figured all of my writing time would be spent on one of my three novels in the works. No, I have yet to have had the time to make them--or parts of them--into short stories. 

Instead, I'm helping others become better writers.

To be selfish, one of my hopes during this "Aaron-is-an-instructor-first" time is that I will attain some sort of perspective that allows me to break through the issues I have with my first novel's first draft, my second-in-the-work's plot problems, and my should-I-or-should-I-nots about whether that one in between is more of a short story needing a quick ending. One thing is for sure: I will be practicing my usage of hyphens no matter what! He, he.

Anyhoo, the title of this post has something to do with group work in the realms of college-level academia. Personally, I feel as if I've been performing to some student-centered expectation that regards different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Lately, I have realized that my comfort in direct instruction is a strength of mine.

Emphasizing the managing of group assignments feels forced to me. Is this because I'm male and always look for direct solutions? Is this because I'm a student who respects and has relied upon direct instruction for inspiration and guidance? Or do I just feel uncomfortable with pushing students to socialize with each other in the academic constraints of a classroom?

Regardless of where I work, I always encourage students to help each other out, quiz each other prior to exams, and to conduct peer reviews. That's the extent to my pushing group work, so far. Perhaps it's the writer in me that feels left out while they are encoding and decoding messages regarding tone, sentence structure, flow, theme, and every other aspect of writing in which I'm not partaking.

I want to learn to write better, too! Peer reviews seem a memory now. 

Are all English instructors wanna-be-writers, too? If so, let's get together for some sort of group project. You'll have to assign me a role!

February 11, 2011