Seven Weeks on the Tenure Track

Just writing that subject line made my head spin a bit. After five years on the job market, fall without letters to request, job lists to study and applications to send out feels odd. Wonderful of course, but odd. I hadn’t realized it, but being on the job market had become part of my identity.

What else is strange? Not telling people I’m an adjunct lecturer, something I thought about today as I revised an article where I identified as an “adjunct instructor.” Likewise, it’s only been a few weeks since I took my Loyola Marymount faculty ID out of my wallet. My car still has a parking permit for West LA Community College on its windshield.

I think this strange feeling of not entirely believing I’m an assistant professor now is partly due to how long I adjuncted and partly due to my having been hired at a place where my status was “part time temporary” for two years. For years I’ve told myself and my family that being hired into a tenure track job would mean relocating, that my partner and I would be moving. But here we are, in the same Santa Monica apartment we lived in when I was a graduate student, thanking the gods for rent control. In addition, I worked in my program coordinator job at CSUDH until the Tuesday of my first week in the new gig. That crashing sound, I think, is me changing gears.

I’m almost moved into my office now. Just need to hang some pictures and for the bookcase to get fastened to the wall (earthquakes) so I can load my books into it.  To some degree I’ve “decorated,” that is, brought stuff from home, to every workspace I’ve ever occupied, however short the time I was going to work in it. But as I moved stuff into the new office I thought — this space is as close to permanent as any workspace can be. I definitely made sure the carpet got cleaned before my desk (a huge mid-century wooden one that I think has been on the campus since it opened) got moved in.

People ask me if I feel differently about the campus. I think  l look at them a bit baffled. I do feel different, but am not sure how. My students are the same and treat me the same (I doubt they know the difference) except they know I’m full time now. I had no understanding of what “tenured,” “tenure track” or any other faculty category meant when I was an undergraduate. I think the most I knew was that TAs were graduate students. If I feel differently about the students now, it’s because I know I have to learn everything I can about the department and the campus so I can advise them. This semester I’m not advising students on course selection and what they need to take to graduate, but I will next semester when the two tenured people in my department will be away, one on a Fulbright and the other on sabbatical.

My first RTP (Retention, Tenure and Promotion) submission is due in January. It’s basically a five page plan on how I intend to spend the next five years, what my research plans are and so on. This is the first time since I started graduate school where I could look more than a year into the future and imagine I could see what I would be doing the following year and where I would be doing it.

I don’t have any category on this blog where this post fits.

Passion, Procrastination and Impostor Syndrome

First off, the weekly review. I did it, it was good and it only took two hours this week so things are improving. I’ve gotten some work done on the book review and in starting to package up my current job so I can hand it off cleanly to my successor in mid-August. Things are getting done in pretty much every area of my life. So that’s good.

Along those lines, I read about a system called ZTD (Zen to Done) on Robert Talbert’s blog as something that he uses to enhance his GTD practice, so of course I went and read the little book. It raised some interesting points about habit formation that I hadn’t considered before and made me think about how I tend to try and change many habits at once only to revert to my old ways when I’m under stress. There’s a lot to unpack there and much good content that I’m still thinking about.

it was the last point in the book, “Find Your Passion Habit” which said that if you make your passion your job then you’ll find doing work easy that I had an issue with. Because I am passionate about my job — both teaching and researching and yet I procrastinate about my writing my research, even though there’s nothing that interests me more than the work I do on Chicana feminist writers and editors. Despite (or perhaps because of this love) sometimes, oftentimes, I struggle when it comes to sitting down and writing my ideas. Those times have even extended into finding it difficult to do research because I’m anticipating the struggle to write. I’m struck as I write this with the fact almost all of my publications to date were written to an editor-imposed deadline. I wonder if without those deadlines I’d still be struggling to write them, trying to craft the more perfect article.

Why does writing seem so unnatural to me? I’ll do anything to postpone it — empty the trash, answer the telephone. The voice recurs in me: Who am I, a poor Chicanita from the sticks to think I could write… ~Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third Women Writers

What causes me to procrastinate is, as Joseph Kasper (pseudonym) wrote about four years ago, a sometimes overwhelming case of impostor syndrome where I doubt my ideas, the quality of research and the quality of my writing. This problem developed twenty years ago, sometime during my first year of graduate school (writing was less of a struggle as an undergraduate) and I’ve been trying to silence my inner voice of self-doubt ever since.

The perverse thing about this is that the more I care about a subject, the more important I feel the research is, the harder I find writing about it. My inner voice tells me I won’t be able to do the subject justice, that there’s research by someone else out there on this that I haven’t found, that I’m about to embarrass myself and let the people who’ve supported me down. And yes, the classic, that I’ve somehow been faking it so far, but this is the time when I’m going to be found out.

It’s something, I’ve been told, that most academics, especially women of color, feel, at least some of the time.  I don’t think the procrastination it can cause is due to a lack of passion for the work we do, but rather an abundance of it.

…I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing. ~Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third Women Writers

Image source:

Hold All the Things

GTD. Getting Things Done. I first heard about it on Bonni Stachowiak’s podcast, Teaching in Higher Ed. It’s a system to manage all the many things (tasks and projects) in one’s life. It’s been around for a while. I’m late to the party.

So first, why am I blogging about this when there are so many great bloggers who’ve used GTD for years, including Robert Talbert (another person I met through Teaching in Higher Ed) who’s written some great work on using GTD in academic life? It’s definitely not because I’m setting myself up as some sort of expert on the topic. In fact, I’m writing these posts about the process, or at least my process, of setting up a GTD system at the same time I’m transitioning from five years of adjuncting into a tenure track position as someone who’s new to the system and flawed in her execution of all things requiring habit and structure.

What motivated me to do this? I first heard about the system last winter, read the book and made a stab at it. It helped briefly, but I wasn’t committed enough (habits come hard for me), I didn’t trust the system to work, I tried to use too many new tools (yay tech!) at once and things fell apart, though I will say at least I never had hundreds of emails in my inbox again. But this past spring, just as the semester ended, something happened that shocked me and made me decide I needed and wanted to commit to GTD and its idea of a trusted system to Hold All the Things. What happened was I opened my email and had a note from an editor at MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States) journal asking me how the review of two books I’d promised was coming.

Reader, I had no memory of this commitment. Like, none. Had the email not contained my earlier response saying “yes” to reviewing these two books, I would have thought the editor was mistaken, that I hadn’t agreed to this. Further, I had no idea where in my study the books were or any memory of receiving them. Somehow this commitment to a journal and organization I care about and respect had vanished into a memory hole in my head, so much that even with the reminder I still couldn’t recall it. Yes, this spring had been the most stressful period of my life (and I include in this the semester where I wrote 150 pages of my dissertation in four weeks), but still I was scared and disturbed by this. How could a promise I’d made be so completely forgotten?

I don’t want to lose track of things. I don’t want to forget promises. That’s not the sort of professor, friend or person I want to be. So Getting Things Done, with its promise of helping me create a system I can trust to hold the things my brain clearly is not able to hold, feels like the right thing to try.

This felt like the right moment too. Although I’m working multiple jobs through the summer, I’m nowhere near as taxed as I was last semester. There’s time to experiment and read how other people are doing this so I can have a system in place when the fall semester and my new responsibilities as an assistant professor start.

I’ve learned a little bit from my attempt last winter. This time I’m not using any new tools, but rather using familiar tools in a new way. I followed the GTD guide to setting up Evernote as a collection system. I’ve used Evernote for more than seven years in various ways so it’s familiar. Likewise, I’m continuing my calendaring system. I use a paper Passion Planner and iCal and sit down and sync them at least once a week. My reason for using both was that while I love iCal, when I was all digital I tended to not look forward often enough. So I’m trying to change as little as possible in terms of what I use and make changes in how I use these tools.

So how did the week go? Slowly and carefully. The collecting thing is new and currently occupying more brain space than I expected. I’ve read around and made a few tweaks, the main one being picking three actions each day as things that are most important (MIT) to get done that day. I’m doing this not just because having a little structure helps me focus, but also because right now I’m in a weird bit of a paradox. The job that I’m giving up in six weeks is making a lot of demands that could fill every working moment. But in anticipation of being on the tenure track, I want to be sure I get in some research time every day, not least so I can finish the MELUS book review. That is, I don’t want the things that are yelling loudest to drown out the things that are actually most important long term.

The second weekly review I did took three hours. Which is better than the four the week before, but still too long. I think part of the problem is that I haven’t created clear outcomes for each of the projects I have and am doing that a bit piecemeal during the review time. My hope is that by next week each of them will have an outcome in addition to a next action.

The other problem I’m having is that I clearly have no idea how long some things will take me to do. For example, one of my MITs today was to read and take notes on a book introduction. It’s twenty pages and I imagined it would take an hour to an hour and half.


It took four to do the sort of detailed close reading it deserved in preparation for writing a review. I suspect (hope) that doing this means that the rest of the book will read quite easily (it was a pretty comprehensive introduction). But it taking so long meant my other two MITs gone done pretty late in the day. Then again, had I not planned to do this and wanted to be able to say I’d done the three things I’d determined to do today, I probably would have given up after two hours and gone to breakfast with my partner.

And that’s it. This isn’t going to be a blog that tells you how to do GTD — I wouldn’t presume to do that. Instead it’s going to be a shambling tale of what I’m trying and how it’s going.

Image by Dafne Cholet:

Weekly Review 1

I told myself I was going to post about GTD (Getting Things Done) and how it’s working for me and that I was going to post weekly. So here goes.

Being at DHSI was enough of a hitch that the review that was supposed to happen last Friday didn’t happen until yesterday (Tuesday). I’m not sure if it was my resistance to the process, the accumulated emails from the week I was away or that I was coming down with a cold, but it took the best part of four hours to sort the various inboxes and get everything up-to-date. I found I wanted to jump in and do the things I was finding for fear of them getting lost — guess this speaks to me not trusting my system and being distracted by a number of current emergencies. I’m going to try and take email offline as I do the next review so as I write the two minute emails, more aren’t coming in and distracting me.

What I was pleased by was going through my lists how many things I’d done, even while being away.  So that’s good. I keep imagining how much I would have enjoyed this system back when I did everything on Filofax. That said, Evernote is doing the job. I was especially pleased when I figured out how to make a Table of Contents page for the notes in my “projects” notebook.

It’s June Already

It’s June and I’m posting my first post of 2017. This may be taking the idea of slow blogging too far. I’m writing from San Francisco Airport on my way to the University of Victoria for DHSI. I am excited.

So what’s happened to me so far this year? Spring was a blur. I got myself in over my adjuncting head by having too much to do. Between my admin work as program coordinator for the humanities MA programs and undergraduate GE courses at CSUDH, teaching three classes at two universities (LMU and CSUDH), being parliamentarian for CSUDH’s Academic Senate, and interviewing for tenure track jobs, I ended the semester by basically collapsing over he finish line. As the dust settles, I’m still picking up pieces of things I dropped along the way.

The good news (the best news!) is that after four years on the market, after applying for more 200 jobs, having 20+ interviews and campus visits, I have a tenure track job. In fact, I have what I believe in my heart is my dream job. Starting in the fall, I will be an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies department at CSU Dominguez Hills, a Hispanic Serving Institution. It’s a campus where a majority of students are students of color. I couldn’t be happier — I’ve loved adjuncting there. The bonus is I get to stay in Los Angeles, a city I love, where my family is and where my roots are. Paul also gets to keep his job and we can stay in our apartment in Santa Monica.

What else is going on? As I said above, I let some things drop this past semester. I’m not happy about that. Inspired by friends in the Teaching in Higher Ed community and to make sure it doesn’t happen again, to help me focus as I move from adjuncting job-seeker onto the tenure track and because I think it will help me balance my life, I’m reorganizing the way I keep track of things using the GTD (Getting Things Done) system. For those of you who follow this system, yesterday I did my first weekly review.

I expect this road to be bumpy. My brain resists habit and organization and my response to stress is to let systems slide, but I’m committing to do this for a year. I have tried it once before, but that time I was also trying to use new list management software and I think it was too many new things at once. This time I’m only using Evernote (the professional version), which I’ve used for seven years, my electronic calendar (iCal) and my paper calendar (Passion Planner). Yes, I have to use two calendars – that’s the way my brain works. I think (hope) using familiar tools is going to make this process easier. I want to promise I’m going to blog my progress both on this and in organizing my work preparing to go up for tenure, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

I thought of ending this post with individual “thank yous” to all the people who encouraged and supported me while I was seemingly endlessly on the job market, but there’s really too many to name. I am so grateful for your help and kindness.

The day after, pt. 2

Follow-up to The day after.

My students came, even after them being told they could take a mental health absence. They came.

I started off the class nervous. Very nervous. I reintroduced myself, reminding them that I am a Chicana feminist scholar and what that means about my academic and personal politics. I told them Chicana/o studies is not neutral on issues of race, gender, sexuality and economic justice. I told them I was not neutral on this election. I also said that this was a space they could talk about the election, any fears, any plans, any questions.

There was nodding, but silence. So I went into my lecture on food and The Hunger Games. But in addition to the focus on food, we also looked at reality TV. Its cruelties and attractions. The discussion and lecture (I mingle the two) had gone on for forty five minutes, and had included discussion on the ways the United States was Panem when I got to my last slide. It asked them to talk about Donald Trump as reality TV star and how this image he had constructed informed the support for his run for the presidency.

Discussion came alive. Everything about the election, about Trump, about his personality and persona and his views was discussed. The students looked at the intersections of his support and what it meant and what it would mean. Their ideas were powerful and informed.

Then we took our break and the students started their presentations. As part of their requirements for this class, five students each week bring in a food that’s significant to them for any reason. They then, in a presentation, give a five to ten minute cultural and social exploration of that food. They have to bring in enough of the food so that everyone can have a taste.

The students last night outdid themselves. We had two types of tamales, each with stories of their connections to home, mothers and sisters, Los Angeles and to Meso America. Another student brought in pralines, connecting them to her family’s history in Louisiana and New Orleans. We had Cuban pork, black beans and rice and their connection to Cuba, Castro, fleeing, and starting again.

But the stand-out moment for me, the day after the election of Trump, was a student who brought in Chinese Chicken salad she had made for us. A Muslim woman originally from the Middle East, she told the history of this salad in her family (which she described as “Trump’s nightmare”). How her Asian American sister-in-law had made it and introduced her to it, along with U.S. customs like Thanksgiving. How this salad, created in California by a European chief based on California cuisine and American Chinese food, was so beloved by her children and her. It was a perfect moment.

These presentations filled me with joy as we came together over the foods the students had shared. They were everything I love about teaching U.S. culture, about how in Los Angeles we rub up against each other, mix together and create hybrid foods, languages and cultures. How this very thing, this majority minority, Bladerunner Los Angeles, is what so many in rural spaces fear, can be so creative, kind and wonderful.

I could not thank my students enough for what they’d done.

I drove home last night at 10:30 PM, after being on campus for 14 hours, filled with energy and hope.

The day after

I woke up shaken from the election results. Although I have cried, especially when faced with any kindness today, I mostly feel and have felt hollowed out. As I’ve spent the day in meetings at CSU Dominguez Hills surrounded by people of color, mainly African Americans and Latina/x/os, I’ve wondered if everyone was feeling what I am. More people that usual said “how are you today?” (one said “How about those Yankees?” but meant the same thing) to each other, with each of us replying “I’m okay.” I said I was okay too because what else can I say? I’m not. This reality is about as far from okay as anything I can imagine.

Tonight is my evening class, an interdisciplinary study course on American society. This semester it’s a class on food and culture. Although the semester is in full swing (maybe even winding down) this class only started three weeks ago. It’s a hybrid course, meeting online and in person for eight weeks. My students are only just beginning to know each other. Last week we celebrated Día de Los Muertos together at Self HelP Graphics. It was a wonderful event I loved sharing with them. This week we are scheduled to talk about The Hunger Games, share food and learn a bit about WordPress.

But this morning I sent an email to my class letting them know we are meeting, that I understood if they couldn’t come but that if they did, we would have space to talk about what’s happened and to try and understand what it means. What I’m not going to ask them to do is to pretend nothing has happened. This is not just another Wednesday. My politics and pedagogy do not allow me to pretend that it is.

So in forty-five minutes I’ll go and teach a class unlike one I’ve taught before. I’ll be glad to see my students. I only hope I can keep my throat from closing up as we talk.

Teaching Chicana/o Studies Online


Image from Flickr: Daniel Orth

This semester has a lot of firsts, a lot of new work. First, as I mentioned, I’m working full time at CSU Dominguez Hills as coordinator of the humanities program and instructor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Chicana/o Studies. I am not teaching anywhere else, so rather than having multiple bags for three different campuses I’m spending my days at Dominguez Hills. I have an office (pictures when it gets set up) of my own and am responsible for making sure other instructors have what they need. I’m trying to get to know the how administration works at CSUDH, learn how to make good administrative choices and understand the history behind the program I’m responsible for leading.

A lot of changes, but that’s not what this post is about.

Because the other new thing I’m doing is teaching a Chicana/o Studies course on the family and gender issues online. This is something different. It’s the first Chicana/o studies class I’ve taught online and the first time the Chicana/o Studies department at CSUDH has offered an all online class.

I confess, after I said I’d do it, I had a bit of a freakout.

Here’s why: first, on a pedagogical level, I wondered how to move Chicana/o studies pedagogy online. How to, within the LMS Blackboard (which I found out I have to use at CSUDH), create an environment where learning could come from the students to each other. So much of how Blackboard works seems to rely on the idea of the transactional classroom where the knowledge and assignments all come from the instructor. I struggled to find writing discussing the teaching of ethnic studies online.

Which leads me to the next and larger source of my freakout. Until I realized I wasn’t going to have it anymore, I hadn’t realized how much I count on my body — that is on being a large Chicana professor — in the room as an instructor in a Chicana/o studies course. How to navigate that? Will my students identify with me as Chicana/o? Will they identify with being Chicana/o themselves? Will we be able to see each other?

As I was obsessing about this, I had a conversation with my mentor Tiffany Ana Lopez about the idea of embodiment in the classroom and online. Tiffany pointed out that online I could do with possibly different results the classic move in Chicana/o studies discourse, to start a discussion saying “within and for the sake of this discussion, we’re all Chicana/o. I’m so grateful for this conversation because I began to see the online space as one not of deficit, but of possibility.


Syllabus: Large credit for the basic construction of the course, especially the readings and recordings being used, goes to Marisela Chavez who was originally going to teach this course.

Blackboard: I’m using the class Blackboard site for grading and to distribute materials. I confess, I don’t like Blackboard mostly because I think it’s ugly but a friend / colleuge made some good points about it being what the students are familiar with and giving them a base where they’re comforting.

Blog: we’re constructing a course blog using part of this site’s domain space. The writing students do for this will make up a significant part of their writing for the class — both in looking at the course texts, finding new ones and constructing content. The content they make is going be surrounding their creation of Dia de los Muertos alters as digital objects.

Slack: I used Slack for the first time this past year and really liked it — especially in the way it was used by different tracks at DPLI. But it seemed like too much to create a Slack team for a class of 20 online students. So I created a team as my own classroom and then a channel for the class. If I choose to keep using Slack, each class will have its own.  The Slack space is a space for asking questions, making comments and basically getting to know each other.

The major project for this course is going to be the construction of some sort of Día de Muertos alter for the blog.



Control and Content Warnings


I confess, I’m angry. I’ve been angry since yesterday when I read the letter written to first year students by the University of Chicago negating the idea of trigger warnings, safe spaces and student protest.

Kevin Gannon at the Tattooed Professor posted “Trigger Warning: Elitism, Gatekeeping, and Other Academic Crap” which explains in detail why the letter is bad policy and represents institutional elitism.

More pithy but on point is a tweet by Saladin Ahmed that captures U of C perfectly:

What I have to say is that trigger warnings, which I call “content warnings” make it possible for some students to take classes from me who otherwise could be hurt by them.

Why? Because some of the texts I work with are disturbing as hell. Not only that, but unlike the case of disturbing content in Antigone or other classics of Greek literature, there isn’t a corpus of secondary literature out there to warn, for example, that Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s Calligraphy of the Witch has brutal scenes of rape. Why would I begrudge someone fair warning that they’re about to read a dark and violent novel?

I can’t say I always thought this way. I didn’t think about it at all. But then I taught a darkly beautiful autobiography by Josie Méndez-Negrete, Las hijas de Juan, with sustained accounts of abuse, sexual assault and neglect. One of my students was blindsided by the book. It sent her places I in no way expected or wanted her to go. It also moved her deeply. As I processed what she was going through as she experienced the text, I decided whether she went through this not should be her choice, not mine. To make that choice, she needed information from me.

To give my students control and the ability to make these choices costs nothing more than a sentence the week before we read the book. So when I teach Gods Go Begging by Alfredo Véa I give a preview of the coming attractions.

Gods Go Begging is a Chicano noir novel with surreal (I would say gothic) breaks with reality. There are disturbing images of  gang violence and flashbacks to the character’s experiences in the Vietnam War.

That’s it. But it’s enough that a student already struggling with PTSD because of their own experiences can decide how they want to handle the text. They can then come to me for more information if they want it. The decision, the control, is, as it should be theirs, not mine.

My students already know from the syllabus I can be flexible with assigned reading and screenings. So far, no one has opted out of a book or film, though last semester I had a student decide to watch American Me on her own rather than on a big screen in the darkened classroom. Letting her do this cost me nothing.

I think that’s why I am angry. Making classrooms safer (or brave) spaces where students feel they can speak without being attacked or can question or take issue with some speech or action they find silencing makes the classroom a better, kinder space. Me not assuming that my students will respond to texts with detachment is positive. I want them to be moved by these books, these films. Letting them know they’re going to be encountering disturbing material doesn’t spoil it or take away from anyone’s reading.

So I go back to the University of Chicago’s letter. What that letter is saying is basically: we’re in control, not you. Don’t complain, don’t talk back, don’t try and have a say in your education.

There’s nothing brave or new about that.

Teaching Manifesto

Photo by Shannon Hauser via Flickr.

Photo by Shannon Hauser via Flickr.

I’ve spent the past week at the University of Mary Washington as a fellow at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Summer Institute. There were wonderful keynote speakers — the amazing Tressie McMillan Cottom and Cathy Davidson and great “tracks” to choose from. I spent about a month trying to decide which track would be right and decided to choose Intro, not so much because I consider myself new to digital pedagogy but because I wanted a chance to have a sense of the foundations of why we do what we do in our physical and virtual classrooms.

Although the institute is about digital pedagogy, one of the most valuable things I’ve taken from it has been asking ourselves not simply what technology we use with our students but what the implications are of that technology. One of the powerful exercises we did was to break into groups and look behind the apps. Looking at their founders, their boards, where their capital came and is coming from and, most telling, their Terms of Service left me unsettled about the technology, including learning management software and companies like TurnItIn, that my students are using for their classes. Too many of these companies see their users as products to produce content for their platform and sources to harvest data from.

After several days of talking about pedagogy, mostly through discussions of writings by Paulo Freire, bell hooks and Seymour Papert, Sean Michael Morris led us in a series of timed writing exercises to get at what we thought about ourselves as teachers and our own pedagogy. (I didn’t write down the prompts so I’m guessing at them based on memory.) This is what I produced:

First exercise prompt: When did you first think of teaching, of yourself as a teacher? Start with “What I want to say” and write for 7 minutes without stopping, circling back to “what I want to say” if you get stuck.

What I want to say is that throughout most of my education I saw myself as a student. Even in grad school, even finishing my Ph.D., even in the classroom, I saw myself as trying to be a student with all the insecurity about whether I was good enough, real enough to be wherever I was. I have that same insecurity now. I teach from a place of insecurity, of instability, wondering almost constantly whether what I’m doing or having my students do is the right thing, if they’re getting anything out of what we’re doing.
What I want to say is when I feel like a teacher, when I see my pedagogy is when I see / listen to / look at what my students are making, writing, saying. And I can see the texts we’ve read or watched together in their work, how they’ve thought about them, how they’ve been, in some way, influenced by them.
Where I teach from, what I feel confident in is my activism. It’s  not hard for me to take a stand, to have a position. I do adhere to the Chicano studies philosophy that Rudolfo Acuña wrote that sometimes there is no other side. That there is a moral or just position, a good fight to fight as it were. So when I teach Chicana/o studies I teach activism, art and justice. I sometimes argue my position with my own thoughts, but mostly my students are getting my ideas from the readings, art and writing we do. I wonder sometimes why I don’t get more push back, something that friends and colleague in the field do get. Perhaps I’m good at using humor to defuse or lighten tension. Perhaps (though I hope not) it’s that my students see my passion and feel overwhelmed by it, are afraid to push against it. I really hope that isn’t the case.  And I don’t think I have anything more to say here and am just waiting for this last minute to stop.
We went from that exercise to constructing (quickly) a tweet that was our pedagogy in five words.  Mine is

 The final exercise was what I was dreading most because I knew our goal was to produce a teaching statement or philosophy. I’ve been working on materials for the job market and find that while all the materials produce anxiety, writing the teaching statement has left me hating what I’ve written. Our prompt to was to write something explaining why we teach. Maybe because of the earlier exercises or the feeling of the class being a community, as I started to write I began to tear up.  What I produced was something I thought I could put on my syllabi explaining to my students what I hoped the class would be like and why.
There are not enough voices engaged in Chicana/o studies in this university, in this state, in this country, in this world. Our artists, our people are under attack and it has pretty much ever been so. Yet there is so much that is significant in Chicana/o thought, in literature, art and in our own lives. I teach what I do the way I do because I want us to see it and talk about it together. I want my classes to add to and be part of this collection, to hear the voices from our past and amplify them. I want your voices to be amplified, your word to be read, your art seen.  And so there is a lot of for us to look at, to read, to watch, to uncover. It is work and it is amazing.
My writing partner for the exercise called what I wrote a “manifesto” and I was happy with the thought that that’s what I’m doing, teaching from the position of activism as an act of social change.
The final thing Sean asked us to do was to write either the opening or closing sentence of a speech on pedagogy.  My stab at that and end for this post:
Most important, we should ask ourselves whether what we are teaching is worth learning.