The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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This has been one of the craziest semesters I have experienced in years. It’s a combination of things. I’m teaching a new laboratory course in a subject I haven’t taught for decades. All new labs, all new class sessions, all new assignments. On top of that I am also teaching my introductory biology course. It’s a course I’ve taught several times (thank goodness!), but I’m finding there are quite a few students with surprising gaps in their backgrounds that have made teaching the course challenging.

The use of technology like colorful animations, images and videos adds many hours to class prep time, particularly when I do not have a collection in an area of biology to draw from for the new class. I also spend many hours trolling the scientific literature for interesting stories and examples to bring to class.

Developing assignments that really help not only assess student learning, but that also help students learn and progress in class is another huge time sink.

What’s surprising to me is that I am a seasoned teacher. Shouldn’t developing and implementing a new course be old hat by now? This experience is different, more like being a new faculty member, because the many other instances I have launched a new course have been ventures that much more closely relate to my current research and teaching experiences. Teaching this far outside of that realm is like starting a new job.

The new course has nearly finished its maiden voyage. I am looking forward to reflecting upon what worked and what didn’t and am excited to teach the course a second time next spring. I hope to be able to resume blogging about teaching more regularly soon!

My apologies for dropping off the blogosphere for these past few months. I would love to hear of any areas you would like for me to explore!

Happy End of Semester (almost)!