On Monday, I was returning the outlines to my students. Since this is their first big assignment I get responses that are all over the board. Some students nail the assignment–turning in an outline with the appropriate level of detail. Some students are perpetual overachievers and turn in way more than is necessary, and there are those who (for whatever reason) turn in something that completely misses the mark.
In order to quell any possible riots when I hand back their graded papers, I turn the tables and have them play teacher. I bring in an outline that has several mistakes and a grading sheet, break the students up into groups, and have them slog through the outline. This reinforces the criteria that they should have included. It also helps them to make choices when something that is worth 5 points is partly wrong and partly right. They have to ask themselves, how many points should I deduct? What is a fair grade? In doing this exercise they start to see mistakes that they made on their own outlines. One group gave the sample outline a “D” and the other rated it slightly higher with a low “C.” The highest grade that one of my students achieved was a “B.” This exercise usually takes care of too much animosity towards me when I give them their grades.
Besides the outline group activity, I also lectured on chapter 5: Understanding Your Audience. The outlining activity took about 3 times as long as I had planned, but it was time well spent so it was o.k. in the long run. However, I have been trying to find time for my students to play Pictionary and I just keep having to push it back!
One of the first “speaking” activities that I do is having them break into groups and play Pictionary. This forces everyone to go up in front of the audience and do something silly: draw pictures. Although they are standing in front of everyone they forget about having all eyes on them because they are so swept up in the game. Also, it is just one more way that they can get better acquainted with the people that they are speaking in front of. This really helps them get over some of their nervousness.
On Monday, I wore a very simple and slightly uninspired outfit– a short-sleeved button up shirt with black pants and burgundy pumps. In some pictures you will notice that I am wearing a bracelet, while in others I am not. I liked the idea of wearing the bracelet with the outfit, but I just wasn’t sure if it looked right. I had toyed around with grouping two or three bracelets, but they made too much noise on my arm and it is distracting when I teach. (I flap my arms, a lot.) Also, my hair is doing its own thing. It needs trimmed and I just haven’t been to the salon to have it done. I’m trying to grow it out and wear it a little longer, but they keep getting the layers wrong and I have to keep going shorter.
What about you? Are there some days where you just don’t have the energy to fight against your hair flipping out when you want it to flip under? Or, finding an outfit that fits and feels the way you want while still being appropriate for the situation and comfortable? I am much more confident when I have taken the time to pick out and coordinate pieces of an outfit rather than just getting up in the morning and staring aimlessly at the closet. But, I am also concerned with looking stylish, put together, novel, and trendy, and not just putting clothes on my body.
Lastly, I handed out an evaluation for the students to complete on my teaching style. My college does an official teacher evaluation at the end of the semester, but by the time I get the feedback those students are long gone. (I just got Spring semester results in the mail.) So, I decided to create one of my own to hand out to the students. One of the things that I read a lot about is being flexible in your teaching style and methods and being willing to change and adapt to what they students want. Now, I’m not so naive as to think that they won’t ask for things that are non-negotiable, like no tests or quizzes, extra credit for coming to class, etc. But, there may be some gems.
Sadly, most of my students neglected to answer the write-in question “What should this instructor STOP doing, what should this instructor KEEP doing, and what should this instructor START doing?” One of the only pieces of advice was to make the power points accessible. The first or second day of class I had a student ask about this, and I told her that they would not be. But, since she asked about it then, and another student suggested it on the evaluation I decided to go against my belief and do it.
Sometimes I get feedback that I have trouble understanding. Take for example the question about “This instructor is available to help students outside of class.” My students rated me high (disagree) and I don’t understand why. I hold office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays for 30 minutes after class, and I have been there without fail (or leaving early) everyday of class. I also make sure to remind them of my office hours in e-mail communications and announce them in class. I have had 1 or 2 students stay after for help, but that is all. I also tell them that I am available by appointment. I can understand that after class may not work for them, and there are 5 other days in the week. So, I take their responses seriously and with a grain of salt.
- The Tricky Business of Grading Participation (insidehighered.com)
- Teaching Evaluations and Program Development (endsofeducation.wordpress.com)
- What Teachers Do in Their Spare Time? (clarksvilleonline.com)
- Raise Your Standards. Don’t Give Zeros. Expect More. (thescamdog.wordpress.com)
- Tests Show Students Struggle to Explain Answers (kcrg.com)
- Grades and Feedback (educatoral.com)