Saturday, September 19, 2009

That's not how it looks from here - oh wait

It's Saturday morning, I slept well, and the day will be full of getting things done. Unfortunately, it's mostly going to be related to making up hours at work and doing things for class. Playing catch-up, as it were.

I've been in a grading vortex the last couple of days, where I'm plodding through a stack (and it's not a huge stack, only 21 papers) of lab reports. These mostly first-time college students who have no experience writing scientifically are expected to churn out a lab report that conforms to and is graded based on how people write scientific journal articles. If they put me in charge (ha ha) we'd start with the pieces of it, because no one gets it. I write lots and lots of comments (hint: never say "First you take a measuring tape...") and I've already put 8 hours into grading these damn things and I've got another 8 reports to do. Harumphhhhh.

It's times like this when it's really important for me to step back and look my situation from a different, wider perspective. One that takes into account the temporary nature of this "problem" and the fact that I have it because I have a full time job plus took this on. It's going to be a beautiful day, and I'm meeting up with a friend for dinner, and once I get over this hump of grading, I'll be able to actually work ahead on lectures a bit.

That's a good thing, a really good thing, because I think it's getting more important in this class that I don't spend the time yakking up front. I'm on the look out for activities they can do in class, and so far it's worked well. I gave the first exam Monday, and while the average was 70%, a lot of people didn't do as well as they had hoped and I want them all to succeed.

And for all my kvetching (I'm sorry to those of you that have had to listen to it) I really, really like it. I wish someone would hire me to do it full time. I have noticed that my effectiveness and maybe my skill as a teacher are directly related to how comfortable I am with the material, and the students of course respond well (both with their attention and with good questions) when I'm in that zone. I suppose that's a no-brainer, but it's been my experience (teaching three labs a week in grad school) that getting to the "I've done this before, so I'm comfortable" stage doesn't happen the same way when teaching only one class - I have to be really well rehearsed instead.

So with that, I'm off to get ready for the day. I'll start out at work, where I owe them some hours and am looking forward to seeing some results of a test. Then I'll maybe go someplace nice and get the rest of these lab reports done.


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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.