Thursday, October 13, 2011

Unity Experience: Round Two!

Today, John Zavodny's Unity Experience class visited Unity House.  First, we had cherry chocolate chip cookies (unburned) and lemonade and chatted about the house.  Students asked questions about whether the house was warm and about the movable walls. When I mentioned that the television we brought from Idaho had magically fit into the existing wall recess, they insisted, almost as a single voice, that we needed a Wii set up here -- and they promised to coach me so that I could kick Stephen's butt in Wii tennis.

Then they moved on to more personal questions like "What's the best thing about living here?" and "What's the worst thing about living here?" and "What would you change about the house?" They were skilled questioners! After the questions, I sent them on a self-guided tour of the house. They separated into two groups -- men and women, or as one student said, "Con Law and not Con Law" -- and swarmed around.

The object that got the most attention, as in previous student visits to the house, was The Chair of Stephen.  Second up was the double monitors.

Also of interest was my yoga sling.  I heard students asking each other "What IS that thing?" No one voiced that question to me, so I brought it up myself and promised to demonstrate how the yoga sling worked if the students obeyed me when we got to the writing exercise. That's one of my teaching slogans: Obey me in all things and all will be well.

The exercise I'd prepared would (hopefully) help students with their Electronic Portfolio Assignment. My goal was to keep things lively enough so that no one fell asleep. I wasn't entirely successful, as you can see from this photo of Heather.  The exercise began with a visualization: Close your eyes. Imagine you haven’t gotten out of bed yet. You just woke up. It’s your first day at your first job out of college.                       
Some people think that closing your eyes and imagining something in class is pretty cheesy, but I like doing it because it changes students' perspectives. Still, I was glad John had prepared me by sharing one of his teaching slogans: "Embrace the cheese!"

The questions following the visualization were mostly about imagining the sensory details of that first day: food, music, clothing, people's voices. My intent was to help students develop some fodder to "Articulate and plan for academic, social and professional goals," one of the subheadings in the first of the three major course outcomes.

After we completed the writing exercise, I asked everyone to contribute to my collection of answers to the question "How do you create or define sustainability in human relationships?" Here are some of my favorite answers:
  • "Families staying in touch during hard times."
  • "Give and take relationships work the best. You give and take and that keeps it stable."
  • "Compassion helps create sustainability in relationships -- understanding other people's needs and also having others be compassionate to you.

Then, as promised, I went to hang upside down like a bat in the yoga sling, much to everyone's horror.  I think Samantha took photos, but I can't be sure because I was upside down. Uncertainty -- just one of the benefits of changing your perspective.

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