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teaching resolutions

It’s a new year and a new semester.  I’m entering the last semester of my probationary period, and I find myself thinking almost constantly about ways to improve my workload, approach, and reflective practice.  But you can’t change everything all at once (and I’m definitely trying to undo a terrible baby-with-the-bathwater habit of redoing my courses every semester), so here are five things I intend to work on in my teaching practice in 2012.

  1. Saying no.  I am so bad at saying no.  So bad, in fact, that I don’t think I have said it since I got hired.  I love all the new things I get to do and I value the sense that I’m already an integral member of the department.  But!  I’m really approaching the point where I will not be able to do things well.  My philosophy throughout grad school was that everything gets done in time, and it’s always been true, but something pays the price — my own mental health, usually, but soon it could be the final product.  So!  More no in 2012!
  2. Use this blog for more frequent reflective practice.  I won’t pretend I can adhere to a schedule — you all know I can’t! — but I really want to work on remembering what a helpful resource this site (and all of you!) have been for me.
  3. Read more pedagogical theory.  I’m going to find two books to read over my non-teaching semester.  Suggestions are welcome!  I’m especially looking for writing about teaching close reading skills and about teaching literature in a hybrid environment.  Or else a book on threshold concepts, maybe.
  4. Grade early and often.  I procrastinate way too much on grading and I think I’m causing myself far more stress than is strictly necessary.  I’ve set a really reasonable schedule so far this semester, but only if I actually adhere get the grading underway as soon as the assignments come in.
  5. Down time!  I’m trying to schedule Tuesday nights for non-work time (only possible because I don’t teach Wednesdays).  Maybe I can get through this semester without an entire back 9 of Glee and Castle to watch at the end of it.

Do you dare to resolve?  If so, let me know in the comments!


7 Responses to “teaching resolutions”

  1. Wow! Those five really, really hit home with me. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Lynn Merrell | January 3, 2012, 5:44 pm
    • Pleased to hear it! The thing that I’ve really learned from blogging for the last year or so is that we share so many of the same concerns, problems, and insecurities in the classroom.

      Posted by dr. b | January 3, 2012, 5:48 pm
  2. Numbers 2-4 are goals of mine, as well. Good luck and Happy New Year!

    Posted by Ben V | January 3, 2012, 9:37 pm
  3. Thanks for sharing the list. I’ve found in recent years that staying on top of grading makes a big difference. Hoping you’ll post something about the pedagogical works you’re reading, because I’d love to find something good to read along those lines as well.

    Posted by Heide | January 4, 2012, 6:54 am
  4. 1 and 3-4 are on my list too. When you decide on what you’d like to read, I would love to hear more about it. I’m getting a lot of teaching experience but minimal training and theory to back it up.

    Posted by Beth | January 4, 2012, 9:28 am
  5. 1, 2, and 4 are really goooood. I need to work on those, too.

    Have you read anything about teaching close reading, yet? How far do you want to dive into that world? Are there particular skills you’d like to help your students improve?

    If you want a basic approach, I have a 90-page course packet that I use in my college reading courses. It goes over comp, vocab, and fluency skills. The comp. skills focus largely on critical reading. I’d be happy to send it to you in a pdf if you want to take a look, my email is lorioster at hotmail dot com. Nothing fancy, just a collection of all the handouts I’ve created over the years.

    Okay, you’ve inspired me to make some teaching resolutions of my own. In addition to your #1, 2, and 4, I resolve to reach out to my colleagues more throughout the term. When something really works in my class, I’ll share it. And when something flops, I’ll ask for input and ideas. I will not become an island this semester.

    Posted by Lori | January 12, 2012, 5:51 pm
  6. “Grade early and often” – I find a glass of red wine while I grade papers or exams is sometimes just the motivation I need. . . . I did say, “a” glass of red wine. With two or three glasses, too many students get A’s or red wine on their papers.

    Posted by Keith Shields | March 7, 2012, 4:14 pm

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