Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Teaching Goals Spring 2016

For the majority of the years I taught, I used Jim Burke's Teacher's Daybook to organize and balance my professional and personal life. A couple of years ago they stopped making them and I was bereft until I found Passion Planner which I love for different reasons.

But I still every semester, return to the online resources of Teacher's Daybook, and drag out my well worn copy of English Teacher's Companion for ideas, inspiration, organizers, etc.

There's a lot that won't pertain to college teachers, but there are a couple of things I wanted to share.

Teacher's Checklist
As we build our syllabi, and try to ensure that we're representing minorities, and women, both in our primary texts and our scholarship, to be inclusive, this section of Burke's Teacher's Checklist is key.

I find that these are the questions I struggle with but also the reasons why I allow student choice, and have a final paper/project choice. I've blogged a lot about how this past semester I let go of policing a lot of things in my classroom, and I continue to have this as a focus this upcoming semester.
In some ways I think this is easier to ensure in an online class with both the design and implementation of discussion boards, but I'll focus on this this semester.

Also, while we don't have our own classrooms, I find the ideas behind this key:

In my classroom, in my discussions, whose room is it?
And in office hours, do students feel comfortable enough to come to me?

Personal and Professional Needs
There's a lot of talk about self-care, and how important it is for academics, both students and professors, to make sure that they are taking care of themselves, professionally and personally.
I admit to being incredibly crappy about this. 
Exhibit A: Thursday I wrote a long post about how I'd finished the second round of revisions, and was looking forward to a couple of weeks of pleasure reading, Netflix, and naps before getting the next round of notes and resuming work. I checked my email Friday (yesterday) to find notes for CH 1-3. Buh-bye time off. I'm taking the weekend, because I abandoned everything (shopping, cleaning, laundry) to get revisions done before the new year and kind of HAVE to play catch up. And Monday I have to go to campus, and do a bunch of stuff to transfer my teaching license to NM. But Tuesday I'll start working on those notes because I am incapable of taking time off when I know that's work to be done.
That being said, a few guidelines to help me with that whole balance thing:
  • I've disabled the work email app on my phone, no notifications, and when I close the tabs at 5p, no more checking it, and only checking it M-F.
    • I was rigorous about this this past semester, and it made a HUGE difference. Students knew so it wasn't a big deal, and decreased my stress a lot.
  • I like to work M-F on #DevilDiss2, putting in full days on it. 
    • Saturdays are for grading and lesson planning for the week. 
    • And I'm trying to take Sundays completely off.
  • I have three conferences I'm attending this semester. Which is good. But expensive.
    • However, I'm applying for funding for all three this week, and I've got roommates for all three conferences, so that will cut down on some of the cost.
      • This year I didn't want to present at anything. But I was invited to one. And another addresses a gap in my scholarship, so...but I have decided that next year I won't give into the peer pressure of conferencing. Which may be a moot point if I don't have a higher ed job.
  • Nehi and I have been running steady, 7 days a week, since April. We do 3- 3 1/2 miles in the morning, and walk 2-3 at night. These are great times, the perfect beginning and ending to the day, so I'm going to continue to hold these sacrosanct- no scheduling meetings, no appointments, nothing.
  • I've also done some digital housekeeping: muting toxic people on Twitter, unfollowing or unfriending toxic people on Facebook, deleting and cleaning up files. For people and things, if it does not add to m life, "Spark Joy" as the trendy phrase is, then out it goes.
    • The second part of this of course is not to get sucked into these things as the year goes on. Not being on campus and teaching online, frankly, will help a lot with this.
  • I'm going to try and manage my stress.
    • I've been kicked out of a home. I've worried about food. So worries about how I'll pay for anything when my TAship runs out in May is real.
    • BUT, I don't mind working. By February/March I'll know which back up plan I'm starting on. 
      • As soon as my teaching certification transfer for NM goes through I'm going to get on their substitute list. This will be a little extra money to try and save, and won't be consistent enough that it deters me from #DevilDiss2
      • Come March I'm seriously considering putting that application in at Lowe's. It'll be steady pay, and hours, and give me a job, a way to pay rent and bills June and beyond. At best, it's a stop gap until I start a job in August. At worst it's a steady job.
  • I'm going to remind myself as often as necessary that I am graduating this year. I may want an earlier defense date. I may be stressed about what is to come. But I am graduating. So I need to focus on the positive of that, and finishing my PhD in three years.
I always reflect on my end of semester evaluations as soon as they come in, but I like to look at them again before I start the new semester. I had really good ones this year, but there are still some things I want to be aware of this semester.
These are the things students commented on, and yes, I realize this is overboard as I got one comment on each of these topics:

  • Reflect on completed assignments
    • I wouldn't have thought to ADD work, and think I'll make this informal and use their feedback to determine what forms this takes
  • Tips beforehand of what to look for in reading
    • My class this semester is just online, so I'll use weekly announcements to make sure I'm addressing this
  • More samples of student work
    • This is always tricky, because it depends on them volunteering, and it's the first time I've been teaching these classes, so I've been soliciting examples, but don't have a lot yet.
  • Hard grading/Professional
    • I admit to not knowing what to do with this, as my first reaction is that this is a gender bias issue. 
      • I let students revise any assignment, always read drafts before turning something in, and have a pretty clear rubric, so I'm not sure what is meant by "hard." 
      • I did get one comment that my assignment guidelines were not detailed enough, which I admit, baffled me. But I'm going to do some front loading with this, point them to the guidelines early and encourage them to ask questions on anything that's unclear or that they want more info on.
      • And the professional comment? That could be so many things I have no clue. So I can keep these in the back of my mind, but unless I get specific feedback on my 4 week check in surveys, I'm punting on these.

I was really happy with the focus I had on feedback, and I continue to privilege that this semester, as well as use assignment guidelines and rubrics to help with this.
I have a TA for the first time, and they've never taught online, so that'll be fun. 

So that's my list, the things I'll be focusing on this semester.

In case you want to revisit some of my semester prep tips, here's that post.

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