Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why, oh why, did I decide to teach a new class?!

Problem: For some reason, I decided to teach a brand new class. 

Actually, I know why I did it.  It will be good for my department and our majors.  But that doesn't mean it was a good career decision for me.  Now I am facing long long hours of new lecture prep. The syllabus alone already took a week of full-time work. Really. 

But I have learned a thing or two about how not to be overwhelmed by a new class.  My plan:

1. I am making sure to mix more discussion questions into the lectures.  I have a tendency to lecture too much if I don't reign myself in.  So I'm going to schedule in more discussion, even though it is a 50 person class.  Students tend to be most engaged during discussion.

2. I am assigning 5 minute powerpoint-style class presentations.  I do this in one other class, and students are surprisingly good.  Public-speaking is an important skill to hone.  I wish I had done more of it in college.  The students are assigned a specific topic that they research and are to take an instructional approach, teaching us the main elements of that topic in 5 minutes.  These aren't big topics--they are small ones, something I'd only spend 5 minutes or less explaining if I lectured on it.  And they will be spread throughout the semester.

So I woke up today thinking, Oh my god, I have to spend all day Monday prepping lecture for Tuesday. And then I remembered that we didn't get to discuss a series of questions last class, so we will start with those.  Then I have 5 students presenting that day, which will take at least 35-40 minutes.  So now, my challenge will be--how can I fit all I wanted to say in 15 minutes.  That is a problem I'd rather have.

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