Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Tue, 2 Nov 1993
I ask my students to journal voluntarily, reflecting about themselves, others, me, the operation of the class, and life in general. I journal along with them. I don't collect the journals; I don't read them; I don't grade them. As a sidebar, at the suggestion of the students, next quarter I will start making the journals mandatory, collect and read them each week. At the beginning of each class, I ask if anyone has a journal entry he/she wants to share with the class. It's a way for us to share with others our feelings and attitudes, to come out from behind our walls, to act as role models for the more reluctant members of the class. I read entries from my journal to the class as well. No one volunteered to read an entry today. So, I read one of mine. Then, as we were about to end class, one student, a female African-American, called out that she wanted to read two entries from her journal. She said that she felt "you all ought to hear what I'm thinking." We sat down and listened. It proved to be worth being late for the next class.
At first, we all thought she was talking about a new boyfriend. I soon found out how wrong I was. She caught me way off guard. When she was finished, I was stunned, speechless, my eyes a bit glassy. We all left the class without a murmur. I was hesitant about writing about her entries even though she gave me permission to do so. A little voice whispered in my ear, "Louis, if you do, you'll get your butt pinned for tooting your horn." I listened at first to that voice and sent personal messages to a select few. But, another voice was making me uncomfortable. "Coward," it screamed. "You believe in what you are doing. Don't you trust your colleague's out there? There's a lot of academic learning and personal growth going on here with what you are letting the students do. Her entries reflect that. Let everyone else see that. What the hell is wrong with the celebration of teaching?" After receiving the advise from those few to whom I sent the message, I've decided to risk the heat and send it out. It's a testament to the brilliant light that can flood a classroom, a campus, the world, if only we care enough to help the student turn on the inner glow that lies within all of them. Here's her entries. I think she was courageous in sharing them. I'm thankful she did. They are pearls that encourage me, uplift me, and tell me the effort is worthwhile:
She then added an original poem:
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier (912-333-5947) firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History /~\ /\ /\ Valdosta State University /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ Valdosta, Georgia 31698 / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____