Listen In

Scribe Notes from Memory for Orientation Day, ISI 13

I remember feeling like I was wait staff at a wine bar setting up red cushioned chairs with adamantine, heavy bases in the new fancy SH Rm 331.  Only we weren’t serving kir royale or mimosas.  And the tables were a puzzle to arrange in conference U-style because there weren’t enough to seat the ISI on one side of 6 tables.  Some math word problem to that effect.  Zac, who’s zealous for literature, assisted me. I also remember feeling like a mildly deranged shopper undetected in the Genius Bar feeling around for sound, poking buttons, re-reading cryptic notices.  (She considered parking her failed iMovie project in cyber trash.)

But, ah, that moment, beginning  the Name Game.  I love how memory is not a slave to sequence.  Nancy-who-never-gets-to-go-next actually gets to go next because she is seated on my left.  She will not have to repeat everybody’s alliterative likes and dislikes.  No, we put all the pressure on our new participants, like Ryan with his regrettable recall, Margarite’s magic-making, Susan scarfing soy beans, Linda loving London, and some poor unfortunate(s) ? who sat to my right, who was/were good sport(s) and did a terrific job, but whom I cannot recall.  Not enough repetition? I didn’t take notes, like some.  I was shocked, I say, to realize there were cheat sheets in use.  Among English Majors!

I still love Nancy’s Eleventh (not to be confused with Sandra Cisnero’s Eleven which I also like) although I’ve heard Nancy read it in several workshops.  BTW, I have a perfect iMovie of her reading it.  My pleasure in the writing prompt dissolved with the noncompliance of the SmartBoard.  Making me feel once again, stupid, not smart.   However, listening to the ISI-13ers first drafts was amazing.  I was particularly inspired by Ryan’s geographic organization, although totally intimidated by his memoir.

The Writing Commitment did not thrash the affective filter, but Nancy’s PPT on the Workshop Demonstration managed to do so.  At least, Eileen, with her electric energetics – blurted out what others may have felt, or suppressed.  Something to the effect that whadda we expect, a multimedia inquiry consortium of collegial collaboration within the auspices of the Common Core for the advancement of the writing profession?? When is this due? Don’t you people know it is Summer and we just did a full time gig with high schoolers all year??  Well, my memory is hazy, but I felt like she was expressing something like that.

One beauty of scribe notes is that you can always write people in and out of them and correct previous impressions.  You can dispel misgivings.  Or become the brunt of many jokes.  (And tear your hair out if you get hung up on verb tense.)

I also recall really missing Jonathan.  It seemed odd to be gathering with ISI-ers without his presence, his voice and his bell.  When I called the group back from conversation, one teacher asked incredulously if I thought high school students would even notice me.  I explained that I work with small groups of students and prefer to put the pressure on them to hear me rather than striving to be heard.

Introducing the AWG facilitators was a pleasure.  They are so adept at conversing and getting acquainted with their writers.  When I told Nancy what great talks were happening, she was surprised.  “How do you know?” she asked.  “I listen in, “ I remarked.

And that is what I do a great deal, here, in my classroom, in life.  Listen in.  Observe.  Appreciate this fine ISI 13 group of teachers, thinkers, writers, cooks, and coffee makers.  Welcome to Day One.

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