When I’m looking to give my friends who work 9-5 jobs a hard time, I send them texts like this one:
Before texting my buddy, the plan for this post was to go on to explain that even though I technically don’t have to be back on campus for another 238 days, there’s actually a lot of work to be done. That thought was inspired by those who say to my wife, “Since Bill’s not working…”
There is an online course to teach this summer that involves a lot of preparation before it begins, and once it starts a lot of reading and responding to online texts and emails. I always say I like to read student writing, but sometimes there is just too much of it. However, nothing like a glimpse into my friend’s Office Space work life to spur me on to try and make the most of this opportunity I have to be away from campus.
one of my fav scenes from 1999 film Office Space
At St. John’s University where I teach, we faculty are fortunate enough that we still have the opportunity to be granted research leave. I was granted leave for the fall semester, and I’m feeling pressure to get myself organized to make sure I don’t misuse my opportunity. I know that I can be productive, but I want to be the right kind of productive. Below are some of the lists I’ve been working on so far.
Three Big Points of Emphasis:
Family time including coaching lots of girls basketball
Experiments in building online conversations around this website and the Torg Stories podcast
Projects to Work On:
Short documentary film about students who come to the United States to study
Article based on interviews done with students who are studying abroad in the United States
Essays for a collection perhaps titled A Yankee in the South: Tales of a Native Hoosier… I don’t know what the end of that title is. When I first started dating my wife Megan, her mother used to tell people her daughter was “dating a Yankee.” I’ve since learned that if you’re from places like Alabama, then the folks in Tennessee might be thought of as Northerners.
Pitching films to friends that might involve juice cleanses and lawn mower races.
Items for the Daily Schedule:
Write new stuff or edit film
Work the girls out
Teaching prep and reading student work (for summer)
Write reflections on reading
Professional development (Final Cut Pro X, sound mixing to start)
look for publishing opportunities for written not published work
Go out and about and meet people in Asheville
the master plan for research leave is still evolving
I teach First Year Writing courses at St. John’s University, and for the first time this semester, I assigned what we called a video essay. I’ve previously asked students to create short documentary films before, but I decided to make the video essay an option after the work I saw on the website StoryCenter.
When writing incorporates some combination of text, images, links, sound, and video, it is called multimodal writing. I ask my students to do digital multimodal writing because of the degree to which their reading, writing, and thinking happens in conjunction with the screens of their devices. I think the less students read and publish in digital spaces, the more they are likely to be manipulated by them.
screenshot from Jessica’s video essay
If you’d like to see the directions I gave the class for the video essay, you can click here.
Two of my students gave me permission to share their essays. I think you’ll really enjoy them!
Here is Jessica’s essay about relationship goals:
And here is Jisan’s about anxiety:
Thanks for taking the time to check out some of what we were up to this semester!
Thank you for stopping by the Torg Stories site. I’m an ex-basketball coach and English teacher turned writer, filmmaker, podcaster, and professor. Originally from a small town called Winamac, Indiana, now I split my time between Asheville, North Carolina where I live with my family and New York City where I teach First Year Writing at St. John’s University in Queens. Torg Stories have found their way into the world taking many forms including…
Pat Conroy called The Coach’s Wife, “One of the best books about basketball and coaching I have ever read with a love story so complicated and wonderful it will have book groups talking about it for years.”
Thanks to Pat. I learned a lot about writing from reading his work and was a big fan. May his soul rest in peace!
Horseshoe is Midwestern Gothic collection of stories with themes about love, sin, guilt, and redemption.
In Love on the Big Screen, Zuke is a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-80’s romantic comedies.
The Mushroom Hunter is about my father and his buddies’ passion for hunting morel mushrooms.
Click here to watch “The Mushroom Hunter” free online.