In Over My Head

At the beginning of July I started preparing for my three fall courses. Doesn’t this seem insanely early? Now, I’m worried I don’t have enough time! Already panicking.

I am teaching a couple of courses that I haven’t taught in several years, so I thought it would be a good idea to completely overhaul them both. Entirely. New content, new approaches, new assignments. Even a brand new (for me) format of online textbook for the intro courses. I figured I should put to work some of the ideas that I’ve been developing for the past few years. I think I’m in over my head.



I’m developing an introductory biology course that will also serve as a freshman writing seminar, a requirement of all freshman students here. Because I’ve been writing a book about new ways of teaching introductory biology and have been learning all kinds of great new strategies, I figured what better way to test things out than to apply my ideas to my introductory bio courses (I have two different sections) this fall! All of them at once (even though in my book I encourage a step-by-step approach). I feel in my gut that this is the right thing for me to do and now is the time, but… about effortful learning (see previous posts). I may not have enough time to get things where they need to be by the time classes start. Fingers are crossed.

My third course is my advanced neurobiology course. I decided back months ago to restructure this course as a seminar modeled off of a very successful course I teach to Neuroscience and Behavior seniors. Turns out the restructuring is a pretty huge change in how I approach this biology course. What’s more is that I haven’t taught this course for three years and, because the pace of discovery in neurobiology is dizzying, it’s like starting from scratch.

Here’s my advice to myself:

1. Break down the course preparation into manageable chunks. Focus on a chunk at a time- myopia here is helpful. I’ve been focusing on assignments that match the curricular goals for the course.

2. Work on each course a little bit every day. Today’s goals: finish conceiving the assignments for the two intros, finish goals for neuro.

3. Since these will be new courses all throughout the semester, develop a schedule for each course. You will have to set aside more time than usual for course preparation since everything will be new.

Three weeks to go! I hope you are busy getting ready, but not panicking.

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