Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Update: On being a student again

...to yesterday's post, which alluded to me being a student again.  And here's my student perspective from this morning:

If you assign 100+ pages of pretty complex reading for a week's discussion, the students will take a deep breath, and struggle through it.

If you announce at the beginning of the week that you will be posting the primary texts  that that seminar's discussion will actually be based on, your students will groan, complain to each other, and mentally rearrange their schedules for the week.

If you actually post those readings less than 12 hours before the discussion? At that point, expect things to get interesting.

[Explanatory note: Yes, I'm bitching and moaning here.  I'm also reading.  But really, being a student again is causing me to reflect on things I can improve in my own teaching and structuring of classes.  It's been a long time since I've been in this position, so this is super-helpful to me.  Anyone else want to chime in with some learning experiences?]

4 comments:

clio's disciple said...

OK, let me see if I've got this: there was 100+ pages of complex reading pre-assigned, it was announced at the beginning of the week there would be additional primary texts posted, and those didn't go up until less than 12 hours before the scheduled discussion? (How often are you meeting? daily? weekly?)

Yeah, that would make my students surly. My usual practice is to put everything on the syllabus that I might want to use and, if necessary, cut a little out as we go. That way I look merciful.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

This sort of thing is just what I try to avoid when putting together a syllabus. Usually, I have a basic structure that I follow. Students either love it or hate it. I frequently get evals that say "The structure was so well organized. Thank you for making a difficult topic manageable by making the class follow a predictable structure." Then, I'll also get comments like, "The structure was boring. We did every unit the same way." I think boring structure with exciting reading is just fine sometimes. I'd much rather have a well-organized syllabus that everyone can manage predictably than a more loose structure that people can't keep a grip on. But that's my style - like it or leave it.

Comrade Physioprof said...

Is it primary texts typed out in some kind of normal language? Or is it that old fashioned writing shitte on fucked uppe yellow paper with gruel and suet stains all over it?

Susan said...

CPP, the "old fashioned writing shitte on fucked uppe yellow paper with gruel and suet stains all over it" is the fun part. Much more boring when printed and in theory easier to read.

But really, this is bad teaching. At my worst, I get an article up 2-3 days in advance, but rarely that late. And honestly, my students don't do the reading before the night before class!