Poco a poco

So here I am on the tail end of our first full day in Ferrara, Italy as part of year two of Information and Global Social Justice, the short-term study abroad course I developed (and wrote about here) with Laurie Bridges. I can't overstate how great this experience is: sharing this kind of transformative learning with students, getting to build close relationships with students as a prof, advocate, and mentor, getting to see information literacy skills building and being used in enthusiastic and natural ways? It's all pretty dreamy.

But I want to talk about what this class means to me as a teacher. This evening, before dinner, my co-instructor, Natalia Fernández, and I were working on our lesson plans for tomorrow, and beginning to estimate how the rest of the pieces of the course fit into the spaces between the activities, meetings, and excursions planned for our students. (We have about two hours of class time in addition to other activities each day.) Some of this we had planned out long before, but the serendipity of study abroad require slesson plans to be flexible, as we respond to the unexpected elements that have unfolded. Laurie and I developed the course to be adaptable to multiple locations, and although this year has many similarities to last summer's course in Barcelona, today I looked at the rough outline that Natalia and I had made and I marveled at the purposeful reorganization and subtle changes we had made. It is *awesome* to be able to teach like this. Being able to focus entirely on one course -- like, all day long, for two-three weeks straight -- means that I can bring my entire attention to the class and my students. We can continue our discussion of content, of student rapport, of how to structure activities, and nudge our students in their critical reflections as we eat dinner, or in the morning as we walk to meet our class. It is like team-teaching summer camp, a time of intense focus and the ability to improvise and build on what comes up.

There are obviously lots of reasons that I can't teach like this all year long, and I obviously don't want to always spend my dinnertime thinking about my teaching. Still, it is a gift to have this dedicated time. I am still thinking about what I take with me from this into the rest of the year, and I'm sure I'll write more about this, but right now, it's time for bed.