My three (yes, that’s right, three) sections of 1121 couldn’t be more different in student body, vibe, tone. Two are at night, and I am finding those the easiest (thus far, anyway). My day section is more challenging, but very rewarding. Sorry to say it, but I feel that the reasons are largely physical, practical, and not at all as theoretical as this PD site might like.
Time: At night I have 2 and a half hours (as opposed to one hour and fifteen during the day) of contact time. Giving the students the sheer time they need to complete in-class writing exercises — and discuss them adequately — as well as to hear me comment/lecture/offer modeling or advice has been key. New concepts are always great, but the students need more sink-in time. This first UNIT asks for metacognition, and sometimes a nice juicy space in which to feel and hear helps.I work hard to get a flow going. Then — oops, gotta stop. Q: Could a new 1121 be a longer period?
OpenLab/Tech: Another, voiceless but very present, force is leading my current class structure and its name is OpenLab. Now that I am using it to harvest all my assignments, I need to more fully exploit its functionality or I fear it will be ruling me. Example: Student Portfolios. I know little about how to make these (yes, I have signed up for the Session later this month), and yet I think they can become a very necessary outgrowth of this new 1121 pedagogy. We want transfer? How great, then, to give them such a marvelous tool. Another Example of how OpenLab is affecting me semester is the simple fact that I still am funneling questions and tech problems inadequately. Many of the students are stuck in a tech rut. Can’t log on, etc., etc. I also feel much the same. I still don’t know how to use the grading plug-in properly. i am not as high functioning as i ought to be. As above, so below. How can I fault them?
Okay, those are some negatives. On the positive: yes, this has been a GREAT two weeks. I am reading materials I would not normally have read, I am engaging my friends and family and colleagues in conversations about teaching in ways I had not previously. I love my job. I always have. Now, I feel a sense of excitement and relevance. I also sense that the rocky path I feel below my feet at times is something that I am also helping to smooth by walking it. So: I won’t hold back my honest impressions. It is all for the good.
Needs: + Ways to incorporate the Baldwin essay that make me feel like “me” and not like someone else it teaching. I am struggling with it. + A TA or some helper to get my tech and grading structure in better order. +Time to talk to some of you, individually, so that I can remedy my small issues as they arise.
Gratitude: I am so glad I am on a platform for change. I pinch myself every now and then and tell myself I deserve it.