Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too Much to Do

The six week summer semester is intense. Add to that my personal intensity, and I have been racing through preparations for the first essay with record number of assignments. I always feel somewhat apprehensive, even in the full 16 week semester, about the first paper, since most students in the class have never written papers like this before, textual analysis about complex literary texts. I don't want them to learn by failing. Instead, I want to teach them the skills they need to know to write the paper, and then have them write it, having worked up to it step by step. But in 6 weeks, that means a lot of homework for them to do and for me to grade in a short amount of time.
With my dad needing to go to the ER and visits to see him, this is tough to pull off, especially if I am going to carry on my yoga and personal schedule. Several students in class today implored me to slow down a little, so I am going to try to do it. I will have more in-class assignments and fewer to do be done at home. But that was going to slow down anyhow after the first paper, as I told them. There will be more reading assignments and fewer written ones between papers, and I might consider making study questions extra-credit assignments rather than requirements, though that might mean the people who really need to do them won't, and those who don't will do them. It's their responsibility, after all.
In the second six-week semester, I'll try to pace myself a little, and see if this is more successful. But on the other hand, I have had several students tell me that the paraphrase exercises I have assigned have really helped, so maybe the class is working as I have planned.


Lou said...

The 6-week session is not for the faint of heart, so I tell students who complain that it moves too quickly. Hang in there. Hope your dad is resting comfortably.

Candice said...

what kind of student were you (in highschool and beginning of college)?

since i eventually want to be a teacher too, i take mental notes during class-- what works or doesnt work for me, as a student. hopefully this perspective will stay fresh and will help when i'm on the other end of it (teaching).

but my perspective is limited. i am the sort of student who really really wants to be there-- ha, ya, i'm a nerd. maybe i'll relate just fine to my nerdy students. but what about the ones who struggle and really need help? how do you reach those ones, who are alien?

Robbi said...

You're right about that Lou. But it is killing me too, so I'll slow down for myself, if not for them, just a little.
My dad is doing well, but he may have to go to a skilled nursing home for a week or so with an IV. He'll hate that, and so will mom. She won't be able to go to the Center without dad.
Candice, I was an obsessive student, working on school the same way I do everything else. But I was afraid to take anything outside my comfort zone. I spent so much time failing in primary and secondary school because of a learning disability (or several) in math, spacial reasoning, organization, and handwriting that when I reached my stride in college, I was afraid to stray outside the discipline in which I knew I excelled.
I recognize and identify with students who have learning problems, though I don't always know what to do about the problems myself.
I try to work with students individually when they have problems.
As for being a teacher, experience is the best teacher. When you've been teaching as long as I have, you've seen everything, and tried everything at least once. I'm still flexible. Some techniques work better than others.