Monday, October 17, 2011

Hey, Kids - Wanna Watch My Home Videos?

Teaching Using Personal Experiences

I enjoy it when my teachers use personal experiences to illustrate a topic we’re discussing in class.  Their personal experience gives the subject matter relevance to real life, helps to create a visual image in my head, which I'm more likely to remember than facts from a textbook, and helps me to get to know my teacher.  I especially appreciated when my creative writing teachers talked about their writing process or how they dealt with self-doubt and writer’s block.

I would also like to use pieces of my personal experience in the classroom, and I sometimes do.  I tell my students about my personal writing process, some things about writing that I find challenging and how to overcome them.  Several students have told me this is helpful for them.  

I'd like to take this a step further and share pieces of my own writing with my composition class, but I'm afraid they’ll think I'm being conceited.  I feel very hesitant to stand in front of my class and talk about myself because of this fear, even though I've never thought my teachers were conceited for talking about themselves in class. Some teachers, though, talk about themselves in a way that's off topic for class, and it feels like wasted time.  I don't want students to feel like I'm wasting their time.

Karen Wink talks about reading directly from her travel journal to her students, and sharing photographs from her trip.  I would like to do something like this if it’s interesting to my students, but it would have to presented in a very specific way so it doesn’t come off sounding self-gratuitous. 

photo by jannoon028

World Literature Tourism?

Wouldn’t designing your world literature class like a journey (as Raquel Cook describes in her article) be too similar to the “tourist” approach to teaching diversity and culture that we should avoid?  I know this whole article is about the success of her World Literature class, but I don’t understand what she did differently to prevent it from being a tourist experience. 


Nicole Lysle said...

I also found that I learn the best when I can make connections and hear about teachers own personal experiences. It’s almost like it sticks permanently when you hear things that way because you can relate to them. I think that by sharing your experiences with students, they learn that they have similar thoughts as you which helps to make them feel not inferior to you. I think that this helps learning thrive!

I think that sharing your own thoughts with your class would be a great idea! By incorporating bits and pieces here and there about how you went through the writing steps and what you felt at each point would really help the class connect with you and feel better about what they are experiencing. I don’t think that makes it seem like it’s all about you at all. I think that they would really benefit from it and enjoy it as well. Just make sure that you don’t talk the entire time about you, teach and connect!

In response to your question, I think that Cook's journey went into much more depth on issues than the tourist approach would take.

msshirls said...

Hey Anne, I agree with Nicole. If you feel like sharing your thoughts and work would better hguide your students through the process then I don't see a problem with it. As you said, you're not doing it to be conceited, but to help them. Your intentions are dead on.

When I first read Cook's article I saw the similarity with the "tourist" approach with lit, but I think in her class she made each area an experience and allowed her students to fully immerse themselves (to the best of their abilities) in the culture which allowed them to understand the author/character history, viewpoints, etc. In the tourist approach, students get a tasting.

Cara said...

I think it's really a great idea when teachers share their own personal experiences in the classroom. I am one of those people that hasn't really traveled anywhere exciting, and I love hearing other people sharing their experiences. Class becomes so much easier to relate to when the teacher brings personal stories into the classroom. I think your students would love for you to share your work with them. They will be able to relate to it and make their own personal connections, which is such a key aspect in learning.