by Louise Sawyer
Our Fabulous Facilitator of the month is Gail. WVU username: Iam7.
I loved taking the six-week course MFA314 Japanese Poetic Forms when Gail facilitated it last year. She encouraged me to submit poems to journals and I had one tanka published. Gail’s biography is in the Village Square “About Us” Staff section. Please get more acquainted with her there.
Gail’s full name is Gerardine Gail Baugh. I understand that she uses her second name at WVU. But I’m very interested in what she says about her name.
I started using Gail when I was a child. So many people mispronounced my first name and changed the spelling. I was named after St. Gerard. My brother had been ill, my mother prayed to St. Gerard and promised to name her next child after that saint. She feminized it by adding ‘ine’.
What is your role as a WVU facilitator? What do you do to enhance the experience of the students in the classes you facilitate? I know you made the six-week poetry class an enjoyable experience.
A facilitator is usually someone who has taken the class. Although often, the facilitator will take the class, posting their assignments and giving/receiving feedback along with the rest of the students. If the facilitator has already taken the class, she doesn’t have to post personal lessons unless she wants to. A facilitator is more visible than a moderator.
When I facilitate a class, I like to give to the class what I want to get out of it, such as extra information that can be easily understood. I like to go beyond the book we are reading to find online information that will help to explain the material. If I can’t understand the lesson then I can’t help anyone else. I like to be involved and visible.
For the Japanese Poetic Forms class, I asked myself what I wanted out of that class, and I went all out looking for places we could submit. (Google helped). I am thrilled that you enjoyed that class. I had so much fun interacting with everyone.
I noticed how you put forth your energy and research skills to help us have fun, learn, and risk submitting. I appreciated your extra efforts.
When did you begin facilitating classes at WVU?
A little over a year ago. I think the first class I facilitated was MFA110, Syntax & Grammar.
How was that for you? Please tell us about keeping the course records.
It's one of the facilitator's responsibilities to keep track of assignments and feedback posted. I add that a day before the new week starts. It gives everyone a chance to catch up.
When I start counting I use the list of the people who registered for the class. On the Registration page, where you sign up by clicking on ‘join’, near the bottom there's a list of everyone who signed up.
I copy those names down. If someone wants to join after the class has started, I add their name to the list.
Karen gave out an Excel spreadsheet to help with keeping the class in order. If I have a lot of people in the class then I use the spreadsheet.
- Using the list of people in the class, I check to see if they posted that week’s lesson.
- Then I write down who left them feedback.
- From there I add up the names.
- Iam7: lousaw, Brigitte, Glennis
- Lousaw: Iam7, Brigitte, Glennis
- Glennis: Brigitte, lousaw, Iam7
I could also click on the person’s name, which will take me to their profile. Once there I can see where they posted and commented.
What tips do you have for a newbie facilitator?
LOL. I still consider myself a newbie. Do only what you can. Start slow. Set up the classes ahead of time, you never know what will come up. And, most of all, have fun.
Have you taught or facilitated classes outside of WVU?
No, not yet. I have thought about setting up a class.
What are your favorite classes to facilitate?
I like the literature classes and the poetry classes. I have to want to facilitate a class so I can get emotionally involved. That sounds odd, but it helps me enjoy the classes.
How much time does it take to research and prepare for each class? And to give feedback? As a facilitator, what other kinds of things do you spend time on?
Some classes may be easier to set up. We use the lesson plan from the Course Page. I look it over and format it so it is easier to follow. I search out extra information for easier understanding of the subject.
A class that is just a copy of the book can take a class only so far. In order to gain an understanding of the material, I add extra explanatory material. This can be very useful and it is something that makes that class your own. I always use links so that everyone can have the full experience of learning from the original sites: Images, YouTube videos, and educational site information.
Feedback can take time, depending on the word count. I feel that if someone took time to complete the lesson, then I should take the time and really see, and understand, what the student wrote. I learn so much from reading and writing out my feedback.
I know you are the Managing Editor in Poetry for Village Square and that you have published poetry. What is your joy concerning poetry?
I've written poems for my own enjoyment. I love nature poetry. I enjoy the taste of words. Their sound, the way they can roll into an idea, something with meaning. I need to write for a reason, to find my meaning.
You seem to enjoy several genres. I know you love blogging and you wrote for examiner.com for six years. Please tell us about an article you published that meant a lot to you.
I wrote a piece for Father’s Day. It was about a man in a nursing home. That piece haunts me. http://mywalkingpath.com/?m=201611
My mother was in hospice care in a nursing home where I met this wonderful man. He reminded me of my dad; so, when I overheard his conversation with his daughter I knew I had to write this blog post. I regretted that I wasn’t able to connect with his family. I hoped that this short piece could help families trying to make amends. This man was in the throes of dementia, he was sweet when he concentrated, but any sort of stress made him anxious and angry. I wrote this for all the lost fathers and their children who felt they couldn't connect near the end.
Please share what you’d like to on your special love of writing. Is there some aspect of writing which really intrigues you?
What a wonderful question. I was born trying to write, to create stories. I would get myself in trouble with my storytelling, by frightening the neighborhood kids with some story I told. So, what intrigues me about writing is the way a good story will hold your attention and visit your dreams. I love to make up the places, the feel of a humid, cool summer night that sends a chill up my back and those dark corners with shadows that move. (If I change the words, ‘chill’ to ‘warm’, and ‘dark’ to ‘secret’ the feeling changes) I am not looking for fearful places just the ones that turn my imagination into an idea, where my muse runs wild and I can’t wait to put it all down on paper. What intrigues me, are the cracks in a wall and the life that scrambles through. I try to listen closely, so I can write that sound.
I love your sound words and the description “the cracks in a wall and the life that scrambles through.”
Thank you, Gail, for sharing yourself with us.