Friday, March 11, 2005

California, Here I Come

The 2005 CCCC Convention begins Wednesday, March 16, but I get an early start. I'm flying to Frisco on March 14. I'm doing a workshop on teaching with technology for the Glendale Community College English Department on Tuesday, March 15, so I want to get to the west coast the day before. On Tuesday I'll fly a shuttle down and back to Burbank from SFO.

Despite being away from home for a week, I'm looking forward to the trip. The day at Glendale will be both fun and a great learning experience. One of the best parts of my job is visiting teachers where they work and talking to them about what they do. It gives me a deeper understanding of what their pedagogical goals and needs are, of what their students are like, and of what the technological and working conditions are like.

Visiting a campus clarifies the imagination. It brings into focus vague information. For example knowing an English department might have two computer classrooms with 23 machines in each that run Windows is useful. Seeing the classrooms and how they're configured, what space is there is between computers, where and how work is done, what software links the computers, how teachers and students move in the room, what assignments are being given and what classroom activities conducted, this and more converts a statistical tidbit into a living image.

I also like visiting teachers in their offices. Where they work -- what kind of room they have, what's on their walls, how organized (or not) their desks are, the type of student traffic and student questions they get -- really gives structure to what pedagogical choices are made.

Finally, people who teach and who think about their teaching are just interesting people to talk to. They care. They think. They act. They reflect. Teaching well is all about doing those things for students, and I like the company of people who do that.

So visiting campuses is a way to learn.

And a lot of fun.