January 14, 2011

Assessment of the First Week of Teaching

This quarter I began each of my classes by administering a "non-graded" pre-course assessment quiz. In other words, I asked the students to give me all they have about a topic before we even start digging into the course content. It was a great way to help them gather their thoughts and for me to understand their existing assumptions, or lack there of.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I had some stage fright about teaching my courses. The Thursday double-header was giving me the most concern. But in the end, as my Aunt Kendra's sister Nancy said to me via Facebook - "no worries, you'll do great." Yes, I did!

This quarter I definitely feel like I've relaxed into teaching. Advice I received last quarter from my colleagues was, "relax into teaching" and "don't over teach". These were abstract concepts but now I think I'm starting to get what they mean. Instead of me filling the silence and trying to fill students' heads with boundless information, my teaching philosophy this quarter is to "go deep" and "keep it simple" or Keep it Simple Sister as Marlene likes to say. Maybe deep and simple sound like polar opposites, but actually, they work in tandem. Going deep into a topic, instead of trying to teach every little detail, will ensure that my students get the concepts instead of receiving a broad survey of the field. Keeping it simple is the same idea - allowing students to go step-by-step, reinforcing concepts and not trying to bite off more than they can chew. That was my exact advice to several students in yesterday afternoon's Advertising Sales and Ratings course. They were proposing that they invent new businesses and also develop advertising campaigns at the same time. I said, "I want you to be successful and layering so many levels of work into this class could put you into a free-fall in an eleven-week quarter. Let's scope this down." I could see them think about my suggestion and relax into being focused.

Ah yes, practicing and teaching balance.