Showing posts from February, 2018

The Perfect Class?

Few professors would probably admit it, but one of the things that propelled them into teaching was some hidden fantasy of the perfect class.  They would be standing in some gorgeous oak-paneled classroom with wooden desks fanned out around them. The lighting would be somber and come from large mullioned windows, through which you would see a beautiful quad and tree limbs scoring an autumnal sky.

In my secret fantasy, I am not so much lecturing as holding the room spell-bound with questions concerning justice, truth, the nature of reality and the meaning and purpose of life. And on the last day of this life-changing seminar, a lone student stands and slowly begins to clap. Then, student-by-student, the entire class rises up to join in a unanimous ovation as I humbly stride from the room with the barest trace of a tear on my sallow cheek.

This fantasy is self-indulgent crap.  

What you get is uncomfortable desks in military cordons, concrete block rooms and half-asleep students texting …

The Emotional Bennies of Tagging Up

By February whatever earnest and heartfelt personal learning goals my students set for themselves in their first-week papers have long been forgotten. Yes, they wanted to become better critical readers, successfully manage their time and use better textual support in their writing, but that was then.  Now it's February and they are well within the whirling blender of assignments, due dates and drudgery that make up mid-semester.  So five-weeks into the term is a good time to check-in and tag up..

Lots of professors do something called a Plus Delta Assessment.  It's a useful way to solicit early feedback. There are a lot of models for doing this kind of assessment.  Most involve an anonymous five to 10 minute survey containing three or four open-ended questions: What's working? What could work better?  What can I do differently to help you learn?  What could you do differently? 

Check-ins like these allow for mid-course corrections, but using them comes with an important c…