Monday, June 10, 2019

Learning a Lesson or Two

JillWellington via Pixabay
It's Monday. It's raining. My favorite Starbucks ran out of chai. I caught the back of my sandal on the basement steps this morning and envisioned myself going headfirst onto the concrete floor one flight below (I didn't).

And it's the first day of class.

Teaching during the summer is a fairly new development for me. This is only the second year I've signed on for summer session and, in the abstract, it's not something I look forward to. After spring semester winds down in May, I love flipping the switch to writing mode (or, as has been the case this year, book promotion mode). With no papers to grade, no lessons to plan and, best of all, no alarm to set, it's easy to settle in and tackle the things that fell by the wayside in the busyness of the last few weeks of class and to pour my creative energies into my works-in-progress.

But, somewhere along the line, I get excited. I read over my students' evaluations from spring semester, combine them with my own "do this differently" notes and reconfigure my syllabus and assignments accordingly. Looking at the course through a different lens and set-up forces me to reconsider the value of my assignments, streamline some things and rearrange others to fit a time frame that is both condensed (fewer weeks) and longer (classes that are nearly twice as long and that meet twice as often). I mix in new ideas from teacher blogs, tweets and newsletters and take a new approach to some things, while also holding on to the tried and true.

TeroVesalainen via Pixabay
All of this appeals to my creative side and almost makes up for the tedium of (re)writing a syllabus and timeline, the former of which always takes multiple revisions. Before I know it -- and usually, before I'm ready -- it's time to meet my new class.

I like the longer class period (now that I've figured out how to break it up a bit) and the continuity created by the fact that we meet every day (except Friday) and I really like having a class that's one third the size of my usual classes. The smaller numbers invite discussion and are perhaps less intimidating for those students who don't like to speak up. By the end of the first class, I know everyone's name and I look forward to digging into a new set of adventures in child and adolescent development with a new group of students. Summer session also brings in different majors  and a slightly wider variety of majors as well. While the education and nursing majors outnumber nearly everyone else during the semester, summer brings history, sociology and even computer majors into my psychology class, which adds layers and textures to the discussions.

Pixabay
While I can't say I look forward unequivocally to getting off the sofa and back into the classroom, I can say that I have fun. Adding new twists to old favorites keeps things interesting and sometimes gives me new strategies to carry forward as well.

So, while the early part of summer requires a temporary flip of the switch back to instructor mode, I still manage to get a little bit of writing in, and maybe even come up with a few new article ideas while I'm at it. Then, I have half of July and much of August before I need to change hats again.

One thing's for sure -- it's never dull.


1 comment:


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