Friday, October 26, 2018

Pretty Cool

Now that fall has hit southwest Ohio with full force, I'm happy as a girl with a pumpkin spice latte. Sweaters. Turtlenecks. Purple mums. Candy corn. Apple fritters and apple cider and apple doughnuts from our nearest over-priced upscale farm/coffee bar/bakery.

Of course there's not much time for stamping amidst lesson planning and grading and parenting and doggos and husbands with new hobbies.

And of course I only have one husband, but it sounded weird to add an "a" before a singular husband after all those gerunds and a plural not requiring an indefinite article.

Don't you love it when I talk grammar? I hope so. It's my life now. If I have to explain comma splices one more time, I think I'll turn into a semicolon.

Here's a card I made that's all water-colory and sparkly and uses one of the oldest stamp sets I own.

First, I stamped part of the big stamp from StampinUp's Lovely as a Tree in Archival black ink...which is waterproof. Then, I used a water pen and StampinUp cool Caribbean and Sahara sand to give a wash to the ground and sky. Once that was dry, it looked a bit flat, so I used a Wink of Stella clear brush pen to add shimmer over the whole thing.

The sentiment is from Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post set (I think). The way the ground part of the stamp cut off looked at tad odd, so covering up the gap with the word helped the design by unifying it.

My original plan was to put the sentiment up higher, but that looked so strange and floaty. My designs rarely go as planned. Sort of like my life.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and pumpkin spice,

If you are interested in my teaching life, keep reading. Otherwise, I hope to post a card about once a week until the holidays. Fingers crossed that next semester will be better for crafting.

First up, let me explain my philosophy of teaching, such as it is. My goal with each class is to create an Active Learning Community where students and I cooperate, collaborate, and actively participate in tasks that help students learn to write college-level, formal English with confidence and skill. An Active Learning Community can't be forced, though; it takes cooperation of the majority of the students to grow. Students need to trust me. Sometimes trust is slower in coming, but once it does, the class moves from "I think I can" to "We know we can!"

Two of my three classes are there. In the near future, those two will start growing away from me, not needing to ask so many questions and impatient with my questions. "Well, duh, Susan. Of course that comma splice needs a semicolon."

Dan (name changed) is a ray of sunshine who decided to trust me when he failed his first paper. I told the class repeatedly that failure is a part of learning, and this class is a safe place to fail, try again by rewriting, and grow into success. I grade them like college students out of the gate, but they are just beginning to write college-level English. It's hard and rarely do students do well early on. I ask them to trust me. Their final grade will be fair and something they will be proud to share with the world.

After I returned that first paper, Dan emailed me and said he was going to take a chance and trust me. He asked if I would meet with him because he had never written an essay before (Bad High School!) and had no idea what he was doing. Y'all. This kid is amazing. He's the glue that holds the class together.

Wednesday, we had a peer workshop scheduled. Students exchange papers and critique each other's work. The comments count for a grade, so students take the workshops seriously and do their best to help each other. Most of them are really good critics.

Dan emailed me before class to tell me he was sick and wouldn't be there. He asked me to tell the class to have a great day. (See? He's the glue.) I did, and the class echoed with "Awww. He's the sweetest!" and "Hope he feels better soon!" A few minutes after that, a student walked into class late and said she needed to talk to me. "Dan's not going to be in class today. He's sick. But we texted and are going to exchange papers by email for the workshop. Is that okay?"

Is that okay? THAT'S AWESOME!

Today, one of the students asked if I will teach Composition II next semester. I am and told them which section. They wrote it down, y'all. One told me that he's going to register first thing so the class doesn't fill without him. Another said it would be so cool if everyone signed up and we could have Comp II with the same class. Everyone nodded and smiled like lunatics at a family reunion.

These students did it! They became an Active Learning Community! Yay!

And yes, Dan was back in class today. Everyone was happy to see him.

The second class, which is taught at a high school to seniors rather than college students, has a completely different personality, but they trusted me almost immediately and already had a great community. They asked last week if I'd be back next semester, and when I said I wasn't sure, a few of them begged me openly to stay. They are now on my schedule. Yay! Although I'm not sure how I'll handle senioritis. I teach college for a reason.

Now, if you're the praying sort, please say a prayer for my third class. It needs some divine intervention.

Many thanks to those of you who are sticking with me through this season of life. I miss blogging and stamping and being crafty. This WILL get better, but it's just taking time.



  1. Wow, Susan! Wish I was fortunate to have had an English class like yours at any level (high school or college). Sounds like I would have learned so much in many different ways.

  2. Oh! How I wish you could teach my boys! Well, for that matter, myself. I am most likely the queen of abusing commas. And unfortunately my boys had a horrible high school English and writing education. I am convinced that their reading skills are what enables them to write at all as their education continues.
    Thankfully your students have you in their corner!

  3. So happy to see your post. Lovely as a Tree is a classic. Your teaching appears to be very fulfilling and rewarding. I'm looking forward to more inspiring cards. Take good care.

  4. Lovely card. Can you believe Lovely as a Tree is still in the SU catalogue?! Every year, my stampy friends and I pounce on that retiring list, dying to see if it will appear there. Nope! Such a mystery why everything else retires after a few years, but that particular set lives on for 15 years or more. I mean, it's lovely and all, but how about some new tree sets?
    I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying your new job, and that it is going so well. That is fantastic news, and I am grinning as a sit and sip the pumpkin spice latte my husband whipped up. I do not mind your new blogging schedule either. It will be easier for me to keep up with you now.
    I am curious about your husband's new hobby. Will have to scroll through some previous posts and see what I have missed.

    1. Tanis, maybe I can offer some input about the Lovely as a Tree set. I was a SU demo for four years. It's my opinion that SU will keep the big sellers in the annual catalog as long as they generate the expected income. Have you seen Rooted in Nature? It's really lovely.

  5. Inspiring teachers live with you forever! I definitely channel 'what would Susan do?' when I'm stuck.

  6. Personally, I love seeing you use this SU set, and love hearing about your teaching life. Thanks for everything.
    P.S. Am I using the commas OK?

    1. ...just my two cents but I don't think you need the comma when the next word is 'and'.....Susan - do tell if this Northern Ireland educated woman is correct.
      I loved English at all my schools.

  7. I thoroughly enjoy your discussions on grammar (comma term for me) as I feel our schools are virtually ignoring this component of our language. Most kids simply don't know, don't care and obviously, don't speak correct English. I bite my tongue way too often when I hear "me and my friends, etc." Gads. Anyway, thanks for chatting about your classes...very fascinating! Please continue to share...

  8. So happy to see your post in my email again! I enjoy your stories of teaching English composition as much as I do your lovely cards. I, too, am struggling with the comma splice, except with a new gentleman friend I don't want to offend. When we no longer communicate exclusively via email I won't notice them as much. Keep at it, Susan; we need more people promoting those essential writing skills that social media (and lack of teaching) have eroded or destroyed. Next, cursive writing.

  9. Love your card with the cool colours (as opposed to warm colours) and classic CAS design.
    I so enjoyed you sharing about your teaching philosophy and your three classes. I certainly will be praying for that 3rd class, but I'm sure they'll get there in your gifted hands - or should I say "words"?!
    (PS. And I'm sure you'd correct that last sentence of mine!)

  10. Awesome to have your story! Love the card! SU staple stamp set. Still available on Page 148 in the current catalog. Just might have to weaken and get it before it goes away. I believe I have been told that this is it's 10th year.


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