As the new-ish semester kicks her butt, your blogger surfaces for a moment.

Verily, the new semester is kicking my butt.

Lots of students means lots of name-face correlations to memorize (something I'm still working on), and, of course, lots of papers to grade.

A departmental edict against making more photocopies than are absolutely necessary means I need to spend extra time converting what once would have been handouts into PDFs and web pages, and making sure the links to them actually work. (Also, I need to convince the students for the Logic and Critical Reasoning course to actually bring copies, be they hard or soft, of the homework questions with them to our class meetings.)

It probably doesn't help that soccer coaching is on my plate and that my team plays weeknight games as well as really-early-Saturday-morning games. (It does help that my team seems to have embraced teamwork from the get-go, so huzzah for that.)

As I'm treading water over here, a couple of things I'm pondering:

  • Sure, I'm saving trees by not duplicating and distributing full syllabi, detailed descriptions of assignments, and such. Probably without all those handouts more students are actually accessing the course websites (where I have always mounted electronic versions of the handouts). However, now I'm wondering whether the barrage of handouts at the first class meeting actually helped to scare away people who didn't really want to take my class, thus freeing up spaces for the scores of people who were telling me that they were desperate to add it -- not just because it filled a requirement for graduation, but because the subject matter really speaks to them.*
  • For a long time, I have graded student work in ink that is not red whenever possible, on account of gestures some of my pedagogical mentors have made to research suggesting that red ink on work they are getting back conveys to students OMG I did it WRONG! and am STOOPID!. This is not, as you might guess, a mindset that is conducive to learning more stuff. However, now I'm starting to wonder if we may be training a new generation of students to recoil from comments written in purple ink.

Things have to settle down soon. Right?

________
* I have my suspicions that the extent to which any of my courses "speaks to" people who want to add it might be contingent on how badly they need it to graduate, how swiftly their planned graduation date is approaching, and how nicely my course fits in their schedule. Not that I'm cynical or anything.

6 responses so far

  • becca says:

    p-p-p-p-purple ink?!
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    *runs and hides*

  • Namnezia says:

    I've managed to switch over all my courses to purely electronic distribution using a Wiki platform. So once one course is set, you can use it as a template for other courses.

    When I grade written assignments I actually grade them in pencil, which seems to freak everyone out.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    The task of "name-face correlations to memorize" gets harder every year.

    Did you notice that for some strange reason your class is always of the same age, yet you get older every year? That's just unfair.

  • Pat Cahalan says:

    > A departmental edict against making more photocopies than
    > are absolutely necessary means I need to spend extra time
    > converting what once would have been handouts into PDFs
    > and web pages, and making sure the links to them actually work.

    This, however, is hopefully something you only need to do once to adapt your process, and actually will save you time in the future.

    Because you probably *have* these documents in digital format now, so a simple edit/reupload gets you ready for next year, instead of print, copy, lug, distribute, oh a student lost his copy and now you need to email it anyway...

  • Tony Kubrak says:

    Only two mistakes I see, "not because if filled a requirement" and "how swiftly they planed to graduation date". I congratulate you for leaving the other site. You must be who you are, and stick up for the things you believe in. It is what makes you you. (That must not be right, you you?) Best of luck to you, things will settle down as the students get involved in you're course, as they always do. (OK, most do...or maybe some?)
    Have fun and good luck! Don't worry you'll do well.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Oy, typos!

    Thanks for catching those, Tony. They are fixed now.