Tuesday, 16 June 2009

How'm I doing?

Here is my self-critique following the 1-hour Hero's Journey class I gave last week (see Quart into Pint Pot Challenge blog of 2 June). I do this on the back of the class plan after every class I teach, an aide-memoir to tweaking improvements.
  • Went all right, a well-gelled class of committed writers. BUT I read out from an article arguing for myth/narrative. Maybe it interested them but felt like a droning start to me. Won't do that again, because I still had to explain Hero archetype overview (w/ handout), which is yet more me talking. Finally got to 'Your call to writing' pair-chat and it felt alive. Mentor's Gift they all liked and all reported what they found from it. No time to write a scene, but I told them about it. Be clearer, repeat that it is not a formula.

Another way I assess my teaching is by direct student feedback. I begin every course with a half-sheet asking what they are currently writing, what stage of writing. This helps me to tune the level of course content and my own expectations. Final class, I return the sheet and ask how they felt about the usefulness of the course, and for any specifics they liked or not, any ideas for change.

Tedious, perhaps, when they have one or more assessment questionnaires for the college as well, but I encourage them to be open and to help me out. When I take these home it's always a little 'hold my breath' moment -- will I get a stinker? But then any negatives are a guide to improvement. By now the 5-week Hero Writer course is pretty well tweaked, it seems. From one 'report card':

  • We got so many ideas and were allowed to work creatively whilst learning important skills at the same time. I loved the structure of the hero's journey as a framework to help you write and particularly enjoyed the Mentor's Gift and the little bits at the end, the Writer's Journey.

So, that's all right then. The sort of negative comments were only in the form of 'I want more of this' -- a longer course, more of the Writer's Journey aspect (internal process of becoming a writer), more courses from me. So that's all right too!

The academic year is almost done -- hope you teachers/writers get useful report cards too. I'll be blogging next week and then taking the summer off, getting on with my own writing.

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