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end of term

Hello, my oft-neglected blog.  I’m at the end of another term, and I’ve been thinking through the lessons learned this semester.  This marks the end of my probationary period at the College, which means that I feel like I should have gained some incredible wisdom and clarity.  Mostly, I’m just sleepy.

Three things that went really well this semester:

  1. Group creative projects in my lit classes.  Wow, these turned out to be *so* impressive.  I’m not really sure why they went better than usual, but some things I think helped: I kept the assignment open-ended and got out of the way of crazy ideas; I set the groups and tried to balance strengths and weaknesses; I let students focus on any medium they chose (which means I have paintings and scrapbooks and short films and blogs and musical compositions and twitter feeds).
  2. Assignment scheduling.  By putting the group creative projects at the end of the semester, I (a) ended on a high note, and (b) returned all the papers early and minimized my marking going in to finals.
  3. Scaffolding in my Academic Writing class.  I feel like the assignments built upon one another more straightforwardly and the students had a clearer sense of how they were expected to improve and develop over the course of the semester.

Things to change:

  1. I grew to loathe my Academic Writing textbook over the course of the semester.  Luckily, I think I’ve found a replacement.  I would dearly love to make it more than a year with a composition textbook.  My honeymoons with them seem so, so short.  And changing textbooks means major course redesign, so that’s frustrating too.
  2. I think I am overly ambitious with my lit classes.  Fewer texts, digging in deeper, would probably be better for everyone.  But it’s too much like Sophie’s Choice every time I have to narrow my selections.
  3. In general terms, I need to get my shit together.  I never once pulled an all-nighter as an undergrad and I’ve pulled 5 this semester to get grading done.  The bad thing is how self-reinforcing it is, as I seem to not suffer any ill effects (yet, I know, I know).

Now I’m looking ahead to the summer term — I start teaching my field school in two weeks and we (16 students, three instructors) head for the UK in five.  I plan to blog about the field school experience a fair bit, so stay tuned for that.

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