Second First Day

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My second semester begins tomorrow and I am nervous.

I wonder about these new groups of students I will share space with, wondering about their personalities and if they will like me...or rather if they will trust me enough to listen to whatever it is I am going to share with them.

I fidget as I work on syllabuses. Striking some things, writing others, struggling between too much rigidity on the syllabus and too much wide open space. They need structure, but I need flexibility to observe them and work on some parts while skimming over others.

I've not yet decided in what costume I will adorn myself. That is, after all, part of the role I play.

I have created my stage in my classroom. I hope they are soothed and inspired by the environment, as it soothes and inspires me.

At the end of term last year I found a card in my box.

"Dear Professor Rouse,

Your class was never dreadful because you are a splendid instructor."

This is the mantra I will use as I face my next group of students.

Teaching Lab

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A few days after Christmas, I began a transformation of my teaching space. I enlisted Emily into a sort of captive teen servitude as I began to deconstruct the teaching lab.

It was not a simple cleaning. Twenty years worth of materials needed to be sorted and cleaned. Any person who has walked into the classroom of another knows exactly of what I speak. Cabinets had to be excavated. Paints washed and combined. Items labeled and placed in the correct places.

The custodians were kind, but clearly wondered why the new professor was spending her break in the school, working 2-7 hours a day cleaning materials.  They patiently hauled bucket after bucket of trash away.

Some tasks were easy, but mundane. Pulling out all the broken bits of crayons, peeling off papers on what can be used to melt and recreate, discarding others I suspect are toxic.

I test markers, I open glue sticks to make sure they are usable  I wash and refill glue bottles.

I have been collecting baskets and bowls since September when I knew that I was going to begin this transformation. I visit the local Salvation Army and Goodwill frequently, looking for treasures. I want no plastic containers; choosing old wooden bowls, small glass containers and sturdy natural baskets to be my medium.

It takes nearly three weeks of cleaning and arranging before I am content.  On Tuesday, I tell my colleagues that I am satisfied.

A somewhat cluttered teaching lab is now something more; a place for students to see what we are talking about when we discuss aesthetics and functionality.

This re-imagined space pleases me. I will be adding a light table and beautiful new instruments in the coming weeks (hurrah for grants). I am creating lists of materials that we need in the Resource Library ( A whole OTHER photo essay as I purge that particular room) and still looking for lamps and other ways to soften and change the lighting. I am not a fan of fluorescent light and don't like for children or adults to be surrounded by it.

This is where I teach.

Subversive Tights

Monday, January 14, 2013

There is nothing better than subversive tights, worn on a Sunday afternoon:

Except for, of course, subversive pink eyeshadow and hot pink lip tar.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

You can still see the scar under my right eye. Look closely. It lies in the crease of my cheek, running from the corner of my eye downwards.

I acquired this scar when I was three and sat on our sleeping dog. The dog, named Dog, was startled and bit me in the face. I recall the panic in the voice of my mother. I recall my father being incredibly angry. I have no doubt that the injury looked horrific - bloody, close to my eye,  pieces of my flesh laid open.

Like all wounds, it healed.

Most people do not even notice that I have such a scar. The placement folds naturally in my cheek and I wear glasses.

I show my scars to you. I have no ulterior motive.

I, like every other adult on the earth, am flawed.  The difference is that I don't fear my flaws. I don't obscure them or gloss over them.

Imperfect Uncertainty.

White Light

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Some days you have to wear your Gorillaz Converse with sparkley tights and go to the movies.

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