My first semester teaching First Year Seminar at Appalachian State involved doing so for a learning community (LC). While the course’s full title “Exploring Appalachia at Appalachian: Local History & Culture” intended for the Black & Gold learning community to become more immersed in local traditions, most students interpreted the LC’s mission to be more oriented to school spirit and engaging in the campus community. Teaching two sections of this course proved challenging in many ways. Students lived on the same dorm floor or hall and became very comfortable with each other, more chatty, and difficult to wrangle as the semester wore on.
One of the highlights of the course involved taking the students out to complete a university-sponsored outdoor team building challenge. I knew early on that these particular students enjoyed outdoor activity and valued building community within their group. This turned out to be perfect for them. I participated, but mostly took pictures and observed from the sidelines. Already concerned with promoting reflective thinking, I asked students to reflect on the experience. One student’s essay proved so moving, I submitted it to Appalachian State University’s RLC Magazine.
I was proud to have taken this photo that appeared on the magazine’s cover.
I was even prouder to help one of my students, Camille Craddock, edit and publish her first essay reflecting on this team-building exercise with her new university friends.