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Overcoming Fears:

Gaining Confidence in the Classroom Through Observation


My internship experience could not have been better. Julianna is a wonderful teacher, and
she did everything she could to prepare me to teach her class. From the beginning, she helped not
only me to get to know her students, but she also helped her students to get to know me. On the
first day, I saw pedagogical theory in practice. Julianna commiserated with her students as Tobin
suggests, and she had students reflect on their writing every day. In this regard, I genuinely
believe that my time in boot camp will be formative to my teaching philosophy and my
inevitable teaching practice. Seeing Julianna perform the theoretical concepts I read about in
class helped me to take my readings and responses more seriously, especially the readings that
dealt with digital rhetoric and incorporating multimodal composition.
Every student brought a laptop to class, and every student sat at a school computer. Inclass work was always submitted via blackboard. At first this was disconcerting to me. Im a fan
of having students physically write. Studies show that the act of putting pen to paper aids transfer
of knowledge better than typing does. However, I do see the benefits of having less of a paper
trail with providing an online space for submitting classwork and assignments. Having
everything online also allows the teacher to pull up assignment prompts at the click of a mouse
to make sure that students are certain about the parameters of their various tasks. Julianna pulled
up assignment prompts at least twice a day so that she knew for sure that her students knew what
they were doing.
Moreover, being able to easily pull up the assignment prompt helped Julianna to inculcate
within her students the desire to go back to a text, something she hoped would transfer into all
areas of their work. Whenever students had questions, she would ask, Well, where in the

reading/prompt/student paper can you point us to that would help you arrive at the answer you
want? She taught her students to practice a deeper level of close-reading, but, more importantly,
she taught her students to solve their own problems. She did not simply solve their problems for
them.
Coming from a literature background, this is a skill that I hope to help my students
cultivate. When I was writing my two undergraduate theses, my respective advisors gave me the
freedom to explore my own questions. They did not give me answers. They were curious to see
where my thoughts would lead me. This is how I want to work with my students. I understand
that ENC 1101 students will need more guidance than a senior will, but I can still encourage a
similar freedom of thought that my advisors encouraged in me.
I can see this free space coming to fruition in multimodal assignments. Julianna had her
students do small multimodal exercises in class to ease them into the act of composing in
multiple genres, and she always brought the class back together to discuss the affordances and
limitations that each group faced in composing their mini-essays. However, during the act of
composing, each group had free reign to combine mediums as they saw fit. During one activity
in particular, students were given a group of pictures, and they had to tell a story with the
pictures and only minimal captions. Some students relied more heavily on the captions to drive
the action than others, and some used the captions to merely transition between each image. This
is something that I would like to use in my classroom. I want my students to explore what
different texts say, what these texts allow the students to say, and what the students allow
their texts to say.
While they were in the midst of their final project, I got to lead Juliannas class in a
workshopping activity by myself. Before class, I came up with a list of questions that would help

them to understand how they were using different voices in their research essays. In this essay,
they were required to work with song lyrics, two outside sources, and their own personal
narratives and explanations. To be honest, I didnt feel that the activity went over well. The
students breezed through their workshops, and I had nothing else for them. I let them out early.
However, as I was packing up, one student came up to me and asked me to look at his paper.
When I read it, I saw some of the changes that his classmates had asked him to incorporate.
Instead of the typical, empty laudations that students leave on workshopped drafts, I saw
substantive suggestions, suggestions that showed an adept attention to audience awareness,
voice, and source integration. Relieved, I worked with this student for thirty minutes to help him
fine tune his ideas. We both walked away feeling more confident in our abilities, he as a writer,
and I as a teacher of writing.