Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator

Recent Posts

Discussion of Race Relations Without Accusation
Marketability versus Intellectual Development
You can be wrong and still have a point
Undeserved EMplyment versus Hempstead Schoolchildren
How to Create a Gang Member (Or At Least Destroy a Child's Productivity)


Balanchine-related posts
Focus: Gangs
Joining the Battle against Racism and Colorism
Reine Duell Bethany drawings
Reine Duell Bethany's Poems
Reine Duell Bethany's Short Stories
Reine Duell Bethany's Songs
The Boneheads (cartoon series)
The Shu Factor
Unlocking the Writer in Every Student
Village of Hempstead
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My Blog

Unlocking the Writer in Every Student

Student Unkindness Toward the Professor

I find that I can cope with student inattention, misunderstanding, or laziness effectively. What I find most difficult is student unkindness.
    Some students come to college with an immature view of professors.  These students are unkind, rude, undermining, and distracting. Their snide jokes tend to draw others into their disruptions. Whatever the professor is trying to accomplish in class, these students will take every opportunity to treat the professor as an inept outsider.

Relating Trust to Language

Playing with my two-year-old granddaughter today, fresh breezes of wonder washed over me. Why does she understand what I say? My mind went to my international students, many of whom did not start learning English until college age. Why is it that, at the beginning of the semester, they and I speak carefully and have to politely repeat ourselves to be fully understood, but by the end of the semester, we converse easily and rapidly?
     The elements that foster understanding are hard to define, but surely they are multiple, and surely one foundational element is trust.


Angry that the presidential election happened as it did. Angry that known warmongers and anti-environmentalists whose obvious priority is personal wealth have been selected by the incoming president for top administrative positions. Angry that I did not do more to stop this all from happening. Angry that the opposing candidate acted with presumption against the voters who were favoring the elected candidate -- as if meanness and arrogance could ever carry the day.
      I am angry that I don't write more.

Interference from Past Writing Courses

Today I spoke at length with several students whose research papers I failed because of plagiarism or obvious misunderstanding of what a research paper IS.
     When I graded the papers, I felt angry and insulted because I had been working with these students for eight weeks to help them write an original paper with correct in-text citations corresponding to a valid Works Cited list. The documents these students had produced made me wonder if they had paid any attention to the in-class work at all.

International Students: The Problem of Cues

I teach basic college writing to international students. At times, a student whose English is still weak will come to ask me a question, and I can't understand what the student is asking; or the student will propose an idea, and I can't perceive what the idea is. 
     The communication problem is not grammar. By the time the students reach the classes I teach, their grammar, while not perfect, is sufficient. The problem is finding the right words that will cue corresponding information in my mind.

Reading versus Coprehending

This morning I read the third chapter of the Gospel of John aloud in Spanish (Nueva Versión Internacional). I discovered that while I was decoding the relationship between sounds and print, I stopped comprehending what I was reading. The relationship between print and thought diminished because it isn't automatic. In fact, my thoughts wandered elsewhere while my brain sorted out the match between pronunciation rules and muscle mechanics.
     Surely this happens to my international students.

Reading and Writing Make One Work Harder

Today I was listening to a recording of John chapters 19, 20, and 21 being read aloud in Spanish. I have read these chapters many times over the years in Spanish -- countless times in English. Knowing the content ahead of time helps me catch important words as I listen so I can follow the story.
     After listening to these three chapters, I reread John 19, in Spanish, using the same translation as the one that was being read (Nueva Version Internacional). An unexpected disjunction occurred: Reading the words seemed slow and laborious compared to listening to the words read aloud.

Expectations Destroy Perception

The more I teach, the more I realize the insanity of prejudice. I always knew it was insane, but I enacted prejudices without wanting to. I emitted signals of "I am different from you." My desire was to emit the opposite, but I failed because I naturally had an inbuilt scorecard of expectations that I accrued growing up.
     My expectations hindered me from perception. In my effortnotto be prejudiced against others who were different from me in some way, I tried to indicate that I welcomed differences.

On Learning to Write Papers (Thank You, International Students!)

Yesterday I taught my WRIT 110 class. I often teach WRIT 110 at the New York Institute of Technology. It's a basic writing composition course for international students whose written English isn't strong enough for regular college comp courses.
      When I say "whose written English isn't strong enough," I don't mean that these students' minds are not strong. These students are intelligent and adventurous. They have decided to take up residence between two thousand and ten thousand miles away from home in order to get a university degree.

Grades and Effort

If I could teach but never give out grades
If I could coach but never have to measure
If I could just assign, but not evaluate,
Teaching would become a simple pleasure.

Never would I calculate, recalculate,
Torment myself: B- or B?
Worry for a student's GPA
Wouldn't tempt me: change the D to C . . .

But there is no teaching without grades
Knowing where they stand makes students learn
Those who lack the effort lack reward
Those who put the effort in will earn

Sometimes, the most important thing I do
Is to post that horrid little "F"--
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