Being a good teacher is hard work

I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but being a good teacher is a real pain in the ass. I’m serious! I could quite comfortably do the old-school lecture thing. Just drone on and on and give exams and assignments and wonder why the current generation is so disengaged and where is the RESPECT dammit!?

I could.

Maybe not comfortably. My damn conscience wouldn’t be happy. And I’m married to a teacher who is quite good at his job, so it would feel disingenuous at best.

I have been working through a tutorial provided by serc.carleton.edu that is helping me re-tool my intro geoscience course. It has been immensely useful and a huge time sink.

An excellent quote was buried in the depths of the tutorial, and I forgot already who said it, and do not even have the exact quote…but the general idea is this:

As you go into your classroom ask yourself – can I still do what I have planned, even if no students are here? If the answer is yes, change your plan.

The whole idea of the tutorial is to help design courses that are focused on learning above teaching. It sounds silly at first, but when you make the focus the student and their learning…it turns everything around. They’ll be more engaged and hopefully get more out of the course. It also is helping me identify my goals, the content in the course and then the activities to tie the two together.

So while it would certainly be easier to just go into the next term with the slides I have prepared from this last term (I get to teach the same course 2 times in a row!) and just lecture off the cuff and change my assignments to something auto-graded by our online course software (what led me down the path to the tutorial in the first place – trying to identify better assignment design)….it probably will not do my students very much good.

And, since I very passionately want our general population to be more science-literate…I’ll just have to keep working my tail off. Though I am for sure taking the next 2 days off.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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