I love the predictable change that is the academic year. Up and down we go, twists and turns, thrills and frights….but we always know that the ride will come to an end briefly before another begins.
Most of us have just begun the second ride of the academic year, meeting our new class communities, starting our new class schedules. Now might be a good time to remember a few things you told yourself at the end of the previous semester’s ride:
1. You probably told yourself you wanted to take a good look at your assignments and make sure they address the goals you have for your courses. If you didn’t manage that, take a little time now, scan through the assignments you have planned for your current courses. There’s still time to make some changes to your syllabus if you need to.
2. Review your late policies and other “rules of the road.” Remembering how your students struggled getting assignments turned in last fall, you might want to be sure to have some clear guidelines. Consider taking a little class time to make sure all your students understand the importance of the assignments and how they fit in with the goals of the course.
3. You might have found last term that the students who most needed some extra help or encouragement never came to your office hours. Set up your office hours and explicitly encourage your students to come meet with you. If your students have an early assignment coming up, you might want to develop a strategy to identify early those students who might just need the help this term. You could require all students who earn, for example, a C or lower on the first assignment to schedule an appointment or come to your office hours to discuss ways to tackle the course material more effectively.
4. If you found your class community less than satisfying last term, consider browsing some of the ideas from previous blog posts on this site to try to turn things around this term.
5. Remember to keep notes as you go: what classes work well, which need an overhaul. What kinds of class formats work best with this particular group of students.
Off we go!