So, I’m going to write about today tomorrow morning (tired and hungry). In the meantime, here is a photograph of yesterday’s dinner. It deserves its very own post.
After leaving the Coffee Perk yesterday (and now I’m back for more internet!) I walked around downtown Walla Walla for a while. There were wine tasting rooms everywhere I looked, literally.It (all the tasting rooms) was amazing. More amazing–I did not go in to any of them (at least not while downtown). Walked around snapping pictures, poking my nose into a few stores, and visiting the post office for postcard stamps (see previous post). Then, I walked back to the home sweet rental home.
Apparently, it’s really hot here, which I don’t really feel because I’m used to hot. But by the time I returned to the house, I was hot, tired, and craving a nap (such lovely imagery). It is hot here. Also, pedagogical vacationing is hard! But my self-talk worked (“YOU ARE NOT HERE TO NAP!”), napping was averted, and I hopped into the car and was off again. Destination: J&J Vintners. And they were closed. Awesome. Planning ahead is not adventurous, so. Things worked out swimmingly in the end, however. More on that later.The drive there was weird. “Um. Why am I going to the airport?” Really. I was headed to the little airport in Walla Walla. When I arrived at the address, I was flummoxed and a little pissed at my phone (because that is so very helpful). Clearly this was not right. Wrong.
What I came upon was a series of five buildings, or huts. They are all part of the “wine incubator,” a grant-funded project, which is adjacent to the airport. After seeing that J&J was closed (one of the huts), I ventured over to Walla Faces and talked with Debbie Johnson for awhile. She was awesome and poured me a series of red wines to try. The wine was lovely, but I know nothing about wine, so I have nothing intelligent to share on that. Debbie and I chatted about the area and all the beautiful wheat fields I passed along the way.
I asked her about the people of Walla Walla, the art in the room, and food (where must I eat?). The people are kind, generous, and caring. The art is made by her sister-in-law. And I should eat at Saffron (and order octopus) and the Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant (and order whatever).After tasting the wine, I got a mini-tour of the facility from Victor De La Luz. He was excellent and informative and patient with my questions. Because it was a Wednesday, most of the other “huts” were closed, so after spending time at Walla Faces, I decided to be on my way.
I swung through Walla Walla Community College to get my bearings in preparation for hanging out on campus the next morning (today!) and continued on to the grocery store for supplies. There is a grill at the house, and I wanted to use it! With two bags of groceries in the car (and two bottles of wine–thank you Debbie!), I was in the for the night.
Dinner was served, and I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and finishing The Small Room. Made it until about 10:30 pm. Then, lights out (jet lag and two modest glasses of this). More on today in a moment.
I’ve written and mailed five postcards so far, and it’s only day three. No idea when I’ve done this last. It must have been over 15 years ago. Taking this as a sign of a good, (mostly) restful (pedagogical) vacation. Do you want a postcard? If you send me an email (amandaolatz[insertatsymbolhere]gmail.com) between now and 3 pm (EST) on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 I will send you one. Place postcard in the subject line and include your mailing address. Something kind of related. Participated. It was fun.
Yesterday began at 4:30 am (EST) and concluded 22 hours later. Flights were easy, but sleep eluded me. However, The Small Room by May Sarton kept me company, and there was the laptop, of course. I flew from Indy to San Francisco and from there to Portland. The Portland-bound plane had an “electrical issue,” which kept us on the plane and at the gate for two hours–longer than the actual flight. Safety first. While most people on board were wholly grumpy about this, I found it a good opportunity to learn about Plants vs. Zombies and Minecraft. Seated in seat D, to my right were two small brothers, totally consumed by an iPad. [Their mother, seated one row in front of us, kept telling me “Thank you for your patience.” I kept nodding, smiling, and saying, “They’re fine.” Is that phrase a midwestern thing?] They were lovely, interesting, and boisterous kids, but I felt badly for the littler one who never got to touch the iPad–despite his pleas–and then later fell asleep, his head dangling all over the place. Kids are so bendy! Also, the iPad dexterity! I felt old and kind of jealous–will my hands ever work that way?–and needed Dramamine with all the Minecraft 3D movement or whatever. Anyways, this observation of iPad gaming called to mind Dungeons and Dreamers, a book I read a few months ago and recommend–beautiful storytelling and written by Ball State’s very own Brad King. I don’t game, but I find games enticing. Alas. (Alas? Yes, alas.)
Upon arriving to Portland, I hopped into a rental car and began the route to Walla Walla, WA. Wow. Heading east out of Portland on I84 is stunning. I was quite happy to have the Columbia River to my left the whole time. The scenery was too beautiful for music, so I drove along in silence commenting on the sights–aloud–to myself every so often. There may or may not have been soft swearing. See photographs below; you’ll understand.
After making a quick stop on I84 in Hood River, OR and peeking into the Full Sail Brewing Company, I continued on to Walla Walla, WA. Apparently I rented myself a whole house (really–I planned this trip sort of hastily, so I was genuinely surprised), and it is lovely. I may not return (okay, yes I will). After getting settled, looking all around the place, and going out for some basic groceries (coffee), I called it a night.
This morning I wrangled with the home’s wireless connection for awhile, and then I gave up. Walked to the downtown area and plopped down at the Coffee Perk. And now that the email’s caught up on, here I am. The rest of the day will likely include reading, writing, J&J Vintner’s, grilling, and fire (the backyard has a fire pit!). More in time.
At first I thought I would drive my car (a 2003 Toyota Corolla with 131k miles) from Muncie, IN to Walla Walla, WA. There were two impetuses. One. In the summer of 2000, a college teammate and I drove 11k miles in 28 days–a big loop around the US–and I loved it. I wanted a repeat. Two. I “teach with” this video in my EDCC 640 course every semester, and I LOVE IT. So I wanted to visit Walla Walla Community College. Badly.
Loved ones said, “Please don’t drive.” (I’m going alone.) Being one to love back, I said, “Alright.” So the original plan changed. A little. Tomorrow, I’m flying to Portland. I’ll be in Oregon and Washington for about a week, tooling around.
I booked my flight the weekend before my final EDCC 698 class session of the summer. Being giddy about it (and because it’s kind of related), I told the students about the trip (I like telling stories, and I think they like hearing them). In doing so, I referred to it as a pedagogical vacation. Yes, a pedagogical vacation. And I was made fun of (albiet lovingly) for the remainder of the session. So in true pedagogical vacation fashion (whatever that means), I plan to document/blog this trip. I’ll do so here and in the journal on the right (I like to think it’s photovoice inspired).
My tentative plan is to spend three days in Walla Walla (visiting wineries and meeting with Tim Donahue and Wendy Samitore), a weekend in Seattle (hanging out with abovementioned teammate), and two days in Portland (checking out the University of Portland and visiting SAAHE alumni). I will also be visiting Voodoo Doughnuts (so pedagogical!) and Powell’s Books while in Portland. I’ll keep you posted as I go.
SAAHE Recognition Ceremony—Latz Comments (from the faculty)—April 24, 2015
When I was first thinking about crafting a mini-speech for this evening, my first instinct was to buy cartons and cartons of big Play-Doh cans and snack crackers—peanut butter on toasty crackers—and throw these things out to everyone all over the room. And that would be it. But then I thought about how many people would be here, how much that would cost, and various kinds of liability related to throwing things at folks, so I decided against it. However, it would have been fun—and kind of simple yet powerful, but, hey.
So instead I decided to ruminate on some of the most important writers I go to when I think about teaching and my faculty life—yes, it’s my life—and the students with whom I work. So this short talk is going to be part poem, part creative nonfiction, and part quotations from others. I hope you like it.
When I first began this job, I had no clue.
I had no clue that I would cross paths with each and all of you.
And right now it seems we’ve experienced some kind of communion.
And perhaps in some years we’ll all be having a reunion.
But I’d like to spend some time expressing my adoration.
It’s respect, it’s a kind of love, it’s admiration.
Creative Nonfiction 1.
I always tell people I adore my students—because it’s true. And to adore someone means to deeply respect and love that person. I Googled it, so. And, that is how I feel. I respect your willingness to endure and learn and stretch and grow and adventure and sacrifice and work hard. And I—dare I say we, as your faculty—we also love you. It’s a kind of a parent/caretaker-child love. I imagine. I have no children. I have two dogs, however. And I love them. Or maybe it’s a kind of sibling love? Um, but I have no siblings, so I wouldn’t really know about that either. Or maybe it’s a cool aunt-niece/nephew love? Well, because I have no siblings, I have no nieces or nephews, so that’s out too. Maybe it’s a teammate kind of love. That I know about. It’s an unconditional kind of love that represents the notion that we are bound to and up in each other’s learning, processes, vulnerabilities, successes, failures, movements, performances, and futures. Yes, this is what I know about. I know so much about teams! And you are like my teammates. We don’t always agree; we’re sometimes on different pages. But we are here together, and we can only go together. And at the core, we cannot go anywhere without deep respect and some kind of love.
What I just said is both a preface and a reflection on the following words written by Parker Palmer in his book, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life:
“When we are willing to abandon our self-protective professional autonomy and make ourselves as dependent on our students as they are on us, we move closer to the interdependence that the community of truth requires.”
A community of truth is a beautiful phrase for team.
There is so much wonder and potential in this room, in this space.
My challenge for you right now would be to slow down your steps but quicken the pace.
I need you to take the time to slow down time.
You’re incredibly fit. You’re so ready to run. But just walk up to the starting line.
Things will happen fast and slow.
So please, please, please, take from us everything we know.
Creative Nonfiction 2.
When I first started this job in August of 2011, I spent a lot of time preparing myself. And I prepared in all the wrong ways. But I figured things out eventually. One thing I did right was craft a list of rules or axioms upon which I wanted to center my work. One of the rules was: Put students first. I remember writing that because it served me so well up to that point. Gave me perspective. But when I was teaching at Ivy Tech Community College, I was a teacher. Just a teacher. In my current role, I am a teacher—but I am also a researcher and a provider of service to my department, college, university, and professional organizations. Worried I would not prioritize the very people who prompted me to pursue this teaching life in the first place, I wrote the rule. I mean, publish or perish is a real thing. During my first year in this position, one of my students asked me if I was going to keep it up or if I was going to become just another professor who gets so far into their own heads they forget to see students. I’m paraphrasing. It was an underhanded compliment, but I was actually really offended at first. I think about that all the time; it moves me. But what moves me so much more is you, and you, and you. I can’t get too far into my own head because your excellence demands my focus. Do you know just how consistently you exceed my expectations? You do. Moreover, I need you to learn from this story, this rule. Please. Put students first. It’s not easy, and it’s not always, but it’s everything. It’s better to be in trouble with others than to be in trouble with yourself.
In Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, bell hooks wrote:
“Love will always move us away from domination in all its forms. Love will always challenge and change us. This is the heart of the matter.”
And this quotation provides me with a framework to think about where I am, where you are, and where I’d like you to go. It dips between what I’ve just said and what we all need to do next. When we meet again, I hope you tell me you adore your students. When we meet again, I hope you put students first. When we meet again, I hope this remains the heart of the matter—for both of us.
So I haven’t blogged in like a year; don’t judge.
Yesterday was our first ever SAAHE Program Pinning Ceremony at Ball State. It was very cool. I was asked to give some words on behalf of the faculty. Decided not to wing it and wrote something to read verbatim: a poem. Here is it.
So here we are.
We’ve gathered from near; we’ve gathered from far.
And the main message I’d like to get through
Is we, the faculty, are very proud of all of you.
You’ve written tens or hundreds of thousands of words this year.
You’ve written professionally, passionately, and often times without fear.
You’ve spent time in meaningful ruminations.
And you’ve gazed into the skies of higher education while identifying possible constellations.
Some of you will take your most potently palpable scholarship to the next level.
And when you do you’ll cause others’ minds to slide off the bevel.
They’ll think in ways they haven’t thought before—not ever.
Because when you walk away from this program, you’re all at least a little bit more clever.
You’ve also given your share of presentations,
While mastering the oddly inane yet important art and science of proper APA citations.
Programs and planning and meetings and homework and deadlines and students who have been arrested.
Never before have your time management skills been so tested.
And perhaps never before this moment have you ever felt so weary and unrested.
But let us think fondly upon some of the memories of the year.
It feels like August was yesterday, and all those moments seem so near.
Vectors, stages, developmental atom-like figurines.
I think I think I know what Marcia Baxter-Magolda means.
The Student Personnel Point of View.
It was written twice; it was written through and through.
NASPA, ACUHO-I, ACPA.
With which organizations will I stay?
How would it feel to be May Sarton and conjure up our muses?
I’m thinking after the org. chart presentation there might be bruises.
What is a vignette, and what does pedagogical mean anyway?
I never thought I could accomplish so much in just a single day!
You’ve done a lot throughout the course of your Ball State tenure.
You achieved great things, you worked with students, and you had to endure.
But it’s that mid-April time of year.
And commencement is drawing very near.
To commence means to begin.
And right now that meaning is much to my shagrin.
Because before you begin, I want you to live and be and sit in this and these coming moments in time.
I need you to recognize the power of your accomplishments, these relationships—as they are genuinely sublime.
I want you to know that we are the faculty, but in so many ways, you are the teachers. You teach us.
When you walk into our classes, it is you who are often times driving the bus.
You need to know how much we enjoy working with you.
You breathe life into us. Through you, we imagine our practice, our craft, and our influence anew.
Simply, you matter very deeply to us; you are the bringers of motivation.
Let’s be candid though, sometimes it comes with a little consternation.
We, your faculty, are scholars, writers, practitioners, administrators, and thinkers.
We’re curious, thoughtful, impassioned—and Tinto, Astin, Ellis, hooks, Lareau, Bolman, Deal, and Zamani Gallaher fill our minds with tinkers.
There’s something you ought to consider, as I think it’s true.
There’s a budding scholar inside each and every one of you.
I believe there are things that only each one of us can do.
So what exactly does that mean for you?
Practice without theory is without clout.
Theory without action is not at all what we’re about.
Find the most potent bursts of intersections between the two—make that your professional praxis.
Soon you’ll be spinning your work with students around some kind of axis.
So make it a good one, and remember what you’ve learned.
Build your axis everyday, and even when you’re burned
Use the heat to forge forward even stronger.
And I will wrap it up shortly now, I shouldn’t speak any longer.
But let me end with one story, it will help me summarize.
Many times with questions, people look into my eyes.
They ask me, often, what is it that I teach.
The answer is hard, and I always start with well…but the answer seems out of reach.
I teach classes about college, it’s really quite meta.
All the while knowing I could be explaining it better.
Then I move toward my old stand by.
I explain my privilege; my eyes never lie.
I work with graduate students—you and you and you.
It’s a joy everyday, and that is so true.
We work with the best, and you are the proof.
I am so happy for all of you today, I feel like a room without a roof.
Your faculty work with people who will literally change the world.
When I think about the weight of that statement, my mind becomes swirled.
We acknowledge and celebrate your academic achievements today.
And here’s the last thing I’ll say.
No one can take your Master’s degree away.
Cheers and congratulations to you all. Today is YOUR day.
I’ve decided that blogs are powerful, so here I am experimenting with (a new) one. Not sure what will follow, but I plan to use this space for learning mostly. Maybe a little writing.