It’s the end of the semester, and my plans of blogging each week got lost in a flurry of parenting and grading and lesson planning and committees and conferences and webinars and extra projects and why did I say yes to that and how did I think I had time for that and too much iced coffee. So it goes.

But this is pandemic pedagogy, and it’s important to at least try to extend grace to myself. The semester is never perfect, and it’s certainly not perfect in a pandemic. (And, as Michelle Nahanee recently said in a webinar about decolonization, “perfectionism is a tool of colonialism.”) At the end on the semester, there will be loose ends, unanswered emails, threads I forgot to pick back up. I don’t expect perfection from my students so I shouldn’t expect it from myself. I try to teach writing by focusing on the process. I want students to take risks, and fail, and try something new. I try to model failure myself: process-based teaching.

At the beginning of the semester, our class made a charter where we laid out 5 things I would agree to do and 5 things the students would agree to do. As one of my 5 things, I agreed to throw a class party. I gave students input and they decided a) that we should have a talent show and b) that I should sing and rap at said talent show.

Am I a good singer? No. Can I keep a beat? Also no. Can I at least stay in key? Again, no.

In fact, when I try to sing my toddler says, “No. Mommy doesn’t sing that. Google sings that.” Then, she tries to get the Google Home to sing the song. (Another sign I need to get rid of that Google Home).

But, here is a good opportunity to model failure and vulnerability and risk-taking. Also, as a child I dreamed of becoming the next Weird Al, so I was glad for the chance to write a song parody. I decided to pick something that was both relatively easy to sing and also had both singing and rapping: “You’re Welcome” from Moana. (Can you tell I have a toddler?)

My composition process took several weeks:

  • I wrote the lyrics. That was relatively easy, and I awarded myself bonus points for rhyming ‘authentic’ with ‘pandemic.’
  • I tried to record myself singing over a karaoke track I found, but my voice was quiet and the song was loud. Fail.
  • I reached out to Dr. Gordon Cobb, who’s a genius in all things audio. Like any good educator, he expressed enthusiasm for my project and gave me a small, feasible task to do, which was to record the project in GarageBand. Lesson: don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • I refreshed myself on GarageBand and tried to sing to the karaoke track, but I couldn’t keep the timing without the lyrics appearing on the screen in the karaoke track. Lesson: sometimes you need a model to work from.
  • After several failed attempts, I decided that I would just have to sing it live. That meant more practice. Lesson: when your plan goes awry, make a new plan.
  • My husband helped me edit the audio files and even added a much-needed dash of autotune. Lesson: revision is important, as is asking for help.

So, at the end of the day, I have a recording of myself singing my business communication parody of “You’re Welcome.” Does it sound great and polished? No. Do I cringe to listen to it? Yeah, kind of. But I’ve never done something like this before, and it was fun to step outside of my comfort zone.

So here, for all to see, is my business communication parody of “You’re Welcome.” The lyrics are below, in case you want to sing along.

You’re Writing
(To the tune of You’re Welcome from Moana)

Ok, ok, I see what’s happening here

You’re doing workplace writing and it’s strange

You don’t even know where to start

It’s uncomfortable

Well a lot can happen with a little change

Open your laptop. Let’s begin

to think of writing situations we’ve been in

We don’t have to learn it all at once

Let’s start by thinking of our audience

What can I say except you’re writing

Emails, memos, reports

Hey it’s okay, it’s okay

You’re writing

Just use plain language to keep it short

Hey!

What has 4 steps and helps us assess

If we can trust a source? – yes

The SIFT test

When you learn someone

How can you give the credit right?

Just make sure you cite!

Oh, there are so many great ways

When writing

To quote your source or paraphrase

No one learns it all alone

When writing

Our influences help us grow!

So what can I say except you’re writing

Choosing words to fit your tone

A little bit every day, 

you’re writing

We don’t have to do it alone

You’re writing

You’re writing

Well, come to think of it

Class, honestly do not go on and on

Keep it concise or your reader will start to yawn

Your charts, your graphs, your visuals

Use some alt text just to make them accessible

I started a blog

Did a few tries

Tried it again

Cause it’s good to revise

What’s the lesson?
What is the takeaway?

Don’t start to fret if your writing’s in disarray

Cause these headings I put in my draft

Are just one way to work through my craft

Look at you’re progress

You’re making it happen

Take a step back and you might start a’clapping

Hey, hey, hey, hey

Well, anyway let me say you’re writing

Even though the semester’s done

You’re meeting your goals, your plans

You’re writing

Cause you’ve worked hard and hopefully had fun

Hey everyday just say you’re writing

In a way that feels authentic

You’re doing amazing work, you’re writing

Even though we’re in a global pandemic

You’re writing

You’re writing

And thank you!