When I began teaching in a summer program for high school students offered here at UT Martin, the academic coordinator for that program said to me: "How can we help you make this a meaningful and special course? What do you need in terms of supplies, books, space, time, and/or anything else?" I remember how moved I was by the coordinator's genuine desire to help and to do all he could to supply the materials and support I needed. That philosophy of genuine interest and real support for teaching made me want to work even harder in the creative writing classes I taught! The program, Governor's School for the Humanities, has been a joy for me since I first became involved in 1989.
My experience in Voice Lessons 2004 reminded me of that program; Voice Lessons indeed offers a network of resources, ideas, and support for UT Martin teachers. My work in this program will definitely enrich my work in the classroom, and I am emerging from the program as a more informed teacher. For me, Voice Lessons has been a positive educational experience, and I thank you, Dr. Rakes, and the University for making this program available to us. Through this program, we have an outstanding opportunity to continue to grow as teachers and to share teaching strategies and ideas in real and meaningful discussions with others; we have the time to discuss how writing in all classes can help our students become even better students, professionals, and citizens.
In my busy work days of teaching composition and literature class, administering the writing center, advising students, and serving on various committees, I do not often get the time to focus on issues for as long as I would like. In Voice Lessons, we follow a strict schedule, but that schedule involves making the time to talk, to listen attentively, and to share. What stimulating discussions we have had!
I loved being both student and teacher in this seminar/class. I loved having great books to read: Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach, Peter Elbow's Writing with Power, Kim Stafford's The Muses Among Us, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, and Mary Deane Sorcinelli and Peter Elbow's Writing to Learn: Strategies for Assigning and Responding to Writing Across the Disciplines. These books, the experienced and dedicated coordinators (Margrethe Ahlschwede and Doug Cook), and my fine VL 2004 colleagues (Jeff Hoyer, Heidi Huse, Rich Jost, Jeremy Kolwinska, Jeff Miller, Rebel Reavis, and Terry Vassey) have made this a most enjoyable and valuable experience. I hope that next year VL 2005 will be flooded with applications, and I hope that eventually each teacher on this campus will be able share in an experience similar to the one I have had in VL 2004. I also might add that I believe all UT Martin teachers and leaders should read Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach, especially the section on "Ground Rules for Dialogue" (pp. 150-161). There is powerful information here, and, as Palmer says, "Learning together is the thing for all of us."
Who We Are
Read samples of writing from past faculty participant's seminars.