Barbaric Yawp!

Noelle Mischenko in front of Capitol building in Washington D.C.Public Web Presence:
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I’m not as read up on my transcendentalist poetry as I would like, so my first thought upon reading the phrase “barbaric yawp” was not Whitman, but Seuss. In Horton Hears a Who, little JoJo cries out from the flower “YOPP!,” making himself heard to Horton’s friends and saving his tiny Who-world. Despite the difference in spelling, I’m sure Dr. Seuss knew both the meaning and the literary baggage the word carries. But it is used to somewhat different ends in these two texts: Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” is an almost palpable, powerful expression of animal self, while JoJo’s “YOPP!” seeks affirmation of his existence while managing to assert it on his own.

My Life in Acronyms:

I bring up these different yawps because I’m currently in a phase of life where I’m sounding far more “YOPP!”s out into the world than “barbaric yawps.” And, I’d like to think it has to do with something more than feeling small. Having just completed my first year of teaching, I can see that it has been (and will be) an ongoing process to figure out my place in education. I have a sense of what kind of teacher I am, which I “YOPP!” through the choices I make; essentially asking “Is this okay? Am I doing this right?” and I continuing forward with each positive response (maybe a little like echolocation?). Here are some of my most recent “YOPP!”s that I think give the best sense of who I am, and what I’m out to accomplish.

I “YOPP!” as I transform from an English to Computer Science teacher to meet the needs of the school. I have a MA in English and now teach computer coding, which I basically learned along with my first class. In the fall, I will be offering the new AP Computer Science Principles course. I love learning about technology, and I had room in my day (and the time for PD) to make it happen, so why not give it a try?

Items Unexpectedly Found in My Car This Morning:
5 pairs of shoes;
4 coffee cups (all mysteriously underneath the front seats);
3 copies of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House”;
2 pieces of tupperware my mother wants back;
1 Raspberry Pi computer;
And a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding, though I did find a small, unhappy potted plant)

I “YOPP!” through the partnerships I build between the school and the local community. I am “born, bred and wed” Talkeetna, so many relationships were already in place, but I’ve jumped on every chance to bring the community into the classroom and vise versa. This was especially useful as we developed a Customer Service/Tourism class. The relationship is mutually beneficial and serves the area as a whole, so I say work it!

I “YOPP!” in support of work/life balance. Truly, I’m still figuring out what this one means to me. I spend an inordinate amount of time at school or thinking about school completely by choice. In my free time, I take classes myself (that are usually about school). When you love your job everything kind of gets jumbled when you try and delineate work from life. I also have a really nice husband and a dog that deserve more of my time. I think this “YOPP!” is looking for confirmation that it’s okay to say “no,” which I may be too stubborn/single-minded to hear at the moment. So, I’ll just keep trying to “YOPP!” it into existence.

There is probably something a little unhealthy in the “YOPP!” concept if you look too deeply. One shouldn’t bank on the affirmation of others to define themselves. But bringing who you are to the table and asking for some affirmative guidance has been helpful as I try to locate and assert myself in this new phase of life. As far as my career goes, I want to be like JoJo—pushing yourself to stand out, in hopes of finding your place in the bigger picture.

Remixes & Mashups

When I started this project, I thought about how I wanted to approach a “mashup.” A really good highlight reel? Maybe a timeline? Come on, we can do better, right? Ends up, my brain is more linear-sequential than I would often like to admit, so I quickly found that it was difficult for me to talk about ideas other than in the order they arrived. I was banking on a kind of through-line appearing to tie my bigger ideas together as the project developed, leading to a capstone epiphany! Unfortunately not. The concept that led the way did so mostly in process rather than product. Alexander’s idea of platforms/proscenia really stuck with me through the semester as we tried out new digital storytelling tools, and I was curious to see what happened when stories were displaced from their original proscenia and translated into another. I did quite a bit of messing around with different animation tools before I found one that 1) I could figure out how to use, and 2) had the right “feel,” because this project was more personal than others. In the end, I chose Video Scribe, and I took advantage of their generous 7-day trial offer. What I found most interesting about throwing all of the projects into Video Scribe, was figuring out which ideas from those stories were still salient and expressible on the new platform. It was a genuine struggle to not recreate an entire project in the animation (and you better believe I tried, but I like you all too much to make you sit through a 5+ minute video). I was forced to pare down my projects till all that was left was the core, which is exactly what a mashup should highlight.