A couple of months ago I had the privilege of being interviewed by a student I’ve never taught for a class project. We spent a long Sunday afternoon on campus getting to know one another, filling the empty space with excited chattering that got progressively louder as the hours passed. Eventually, we got to the interview questions, which were brilliant. I’m including some short clips of my recorded responses here.
When asked about my favorite visual artist:
When asked about writing that includes visual and audio elements:
When asked about the pros and cons of multimodal work:
There. My students get to hear my voice, so you should be able to as well.
What sticks with me still is that this is the first time anyone has recorded my responses in a formal way. My friends and colleagues talk about writing all the time, but it’s something new to be considered an authority on a subject. It feels strange to be asked questions like these outside of a classroom.
Recently, a non-educator friend asked if I feel I am an authority on the subjects I teach. I was incredibly surprised–not because I interpreted the question aggressively, but because it had never occurred to me before that moment that there are actually teachers in the world that are not. I had forgotten what it felt like to be in front of a classroom for the first time, my first week of graduate school, without any tools or experience. Then, I was too intimidated and/or overwhelmed for it to really sink in that while I was in a position of authority, I didn’t feel like one.
I’m not sure when this authority thing happened. Nothing magical occurred upon completing my terminal degree, or when I started teaching at a different university. I’ve been writing for years, and while each publication I earn gives me a rush of confidence, no single notification of acceptance imbued me with authority. Yet students, colleagues, and strangers ask my opinion about things that matter. Real things, like where they should submit writing, or my input on what we should teach our students.
I don’t think there’s a definitive answer, but I’ve been creating with authority lately. I haven’t been second-guessing my work, and the closer I get to completing my current project, the more confident I feel. Whatever is happening, I like it.
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