Monday, December 20, 2010

Spring Prep / Pedagogical Resolutions

So where are we in terms of the next term? For many of us, the next term begins in middle or late January.

I've gotten pretty much everything ready, save for a last bit of revisions and ideas for some new cases or topics.

I've started enforcing a few new policies, based on being utterly sick of the way students seem to abuse the "kinder" way of doing things.

I'm also going in a yet more explicitly explicit statement on policies, and will be more explicitly clear on the art of being a competent student. Also, I'll say more about my role as a teacher.

What are you people doing?


  1. I was going to write some snark about polishing my old Soviet Army medals, but the crickets beat that.

    [Plays "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel]

  2. Lines of coke in the bath--oh, wait, sorry. What now?

  3. In all seriousness:

    1. Better paper control.
    2. More student presentations, less me lecturing.
    3. Abso-freaking-lutely NO extra credit. None. Ever.
    4. No missed exams without a written note. No note? You fail.

  4. Well,

    I've got to address the Syllabus/Calendar issue...I write it and abide by it, they don't read it or think it applies to them. I'm seriously considering creating a vidshizzle on the Syllabus with xtranormal, but that smacks of second life.

    I'm implementing a netiquette policy. I'm tired of meaningless RE:'s, bad grammar, no salutation or signed name and rudeness.

    Stoopid questions...what to do with stoopid questions? Can't ignore them, can't slam them. Perhaps a form answer sheet? See #1 on the Fucking Answer Sheet. Hmmm

    @cerberus. What is the "art of being a competent student?" Do tell...

  5. Still grading this semester's work. I actually had some productive ideas about next semester a week or so ago, but I hope I wrote them down somewhere, because otherwise they have escaped.

  6. I'm stealing all the good ideas that I got on this blog . . . after I finish the important things like doing nothing for a day or two.

  7. I'm writing as much as I can. I have two long articles, an annotated bibliography and several short responses to a book review panel due this semester, and a book chapter due at the end of summer.

    I only have two classes this semester and I have taught each of them many times before. They are ready to go except for updating the syllabus for each, basically updating the class schedule. The Dean's office has to approve each one but they're pretty quick. Then I send them to the copy center. Come the first week in January I will create class rosters in Excel and upload the syllabus and assorted class documents (including a map to my office!)onto Blackboard. So I have about one afternoon's work for class prep.

    And yes, I do have a "real" class the first day and not just a syllabus review.

  8. Waiting until 11:59 to submit grades because we started getting nagging emails about the deadline a week ago--two or three per day. If I tolerated nagging, I would've married something by now.

  9. We have a January term here, so mostly I'm just panicking about how to teach a 3 hour class every day for a month.

    Students here are terrible about checking their email. I've never seen this before anywhere else. So I will continue to try and drill it in their heads that they need to check their email and use that to communicate with me.

    Some of them are really struggling to take notes from lecture. According to them, in high school they just wrote down the power point slides. Since I try diligently not to commit the sin that is reading from the slides without having a lecture narrative, the only things on my slides are dates, names, and terms they would want me to repeat/need the spelling.

    I would consider any thoughts on how to tackle those two issues to be a lovely Christmas gift!

  10. Best syllabus add: 10% late penalty per day, no exceptions. I explain to students first day and before paper due dates that if they choose to wait until the last minute and get backed into a corner because "stuff" happened, then it was their choice to risk the late penalty. Every once in awhile I have to repeat that message for grade-grubbers -- but it's taken all the drama out of assignment turn-ins and has apparently saved the lives of many grandparents and pets.
    @historian227: When I do slides, I usually just have 3 or 4 keywords plus a graphic -- that's it. Anything else and students will simply copy what's on the PPT. I also don't use PPT for every lecture. Check out some of the better TED talks or Presentation Zen.

  11. @Prof and Circumstance: Just saw in the NYT that younger folks are giving up email in favor of Twitter and FB chat. Money quote: "It's painful for them".
    Guess that means we'll have to also put out guidance for "Twetiquette".

  12. Historian: I understand. I've heard the same thing. Well kids, this isn't high school. My Powerpoint slides have a very basic outline including important names, as well as graphics to use as illustrations. And I don't post them until after class. They keep asking me to post them early and I say no. They'll need to learn to take notes in class to do well. The more you emphasize that the better.

    As for the three hour class, I do those in the summer (3 1/2 hours actually). I mix videos, lecture, readings, discussion, etc, to break the class into several manageable chunks of time. And when I use a film I give them a handout with things to look for and questions to answer to discuss afterward.

    Free-range: I was told that email is how they communicate with "old people," like teachers and older family members...

  13. @M.A.&M re: old people. Crap. Does this mean I need to use twitter? Because that's going to be hilarious. I can do it, but BOY it's going to be hilarious. And does it also mean I can randomly tweet them videos of...oh...say...Booba's New Shoes?

  14. Oh dear, one of those quaint messages again about "next term" being some point in the future. Every time someone talks this way I am reminded of a Norman Rockwell painting.

    Down here below the deck, we are oarsmen on USS Ejucaishun transporting G.I.Bill money into shareholder pockets. We teach overlapping terms, right through Christmas and all the other holidays. Next term starts before this one ends. Answer all e-mail within X hours. Submit grades on all assignments within N days or else. Quick, check your classroom between dinner and gift-opening. See who else is online 10 minutes before New Year's.

    The head slavedriver paces up and down and glares at us, but he doesn't need his whip. We lash ourselves candy-cane colored stripes of self pity.

  15. Stella, you have a bunch of characters left...

  16. I am so never Facebook chatting with my students. Ew. And if you do Twitter, aren't you subjected to every vacuous emission of whomever you've Twitter-friended or whatever it is? Double ew.

    I'm going back to paper slips and pigeons. You want to talk to me? Get a bird.

    Free Range! It's "one grade down, no exceptions." 10% is a penalty mine will cheerfully take. My goal is to get papers in my hands in time to grade the f---ers all in one batch.

  17. @Tweeters. Tweetie tweet tweet tweetery tweet. Tweetie? Tweetles tweetsie tweet! Tweet tweet....tweeter :(

  18. Fuck twitter! Fuck twitter. Fuuuuuccckkkk twitter. fcktwtr. fcktyfcktyfcktyfckfckfck twtr. fffkkkk twtr. fk ttr. As if!

  19. Or, to put it another way: channels of communication have already been established, and they are a) the classroom b) the website for necessary documents c) my office hours d) email, via moodle. I communicate with students via a) and b). If they wish to communicate with me c) and d) are available to them. If it's important enough to them they will use one of those.

  20. another question: has anybody tried "sliderocket?" (

  21. Towards the end of every semester, when my eyebags sag worse from late-night grading, my husband tells me to give the Little Dears the minimum number of assignments next time. We're allowed to get away with a midterm, a final, and one other assignment. But it's a junior college, with many students whose parents never graduated from high school. I feel a responsibility to give them exam previews assignments, like quizzes based on the reading; and fake real-world problems to solve about Basketweaving so they have to apply the concepts and do critical thinking and all.

    Sigh. Damned sense of commitment. I blame the nuns at my old convent school.

  22. I hate Twitter. Twitter sucks.

    ...please follow me!


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