We are learning

It is the tail end of the semester. Capstone freak-outs among the students are in full swing. I taught my last class yesterday. Today, I wrote a personal reflection with headings like “things I did well,” “things I could do better,” “things I like to do,” “things that aren’t my favorite,” and “things I wish I could do.”

In the past there has been very little assessment of our instruction program. Ok, basically no assessment of our instruction program. Before the semester started, I put together a Google form that gets emailed each week to the professors of the previous week’s classes. I relied heavily on the template that Char Booth provides in Reflective Teaching Effective Learning. The form is for evaluating our teaching and approach and also lets professors talk about things they would like us to do in the future. I’ve been impressed with how willing the professors have been to respond to the survey, and I’ve collected lots of data. I have also been keeping a document with my personal reflections of each of the classes I have taught. Certainly, there is room for improvement in this method of assessment. For one thing, it leaves no room for feedback from the students.

Shortcomings aside, I’m glad to have implemented some measures for assessment. I’m also glad that on my reflection, the “things I like to do” outweigh the “things that aren’t my favorite” and “things I do well” and “things I could do better” are equal. As for “things I wish I could do,” well, I’m a dreamer at heart and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Here’s a pared-down reflection:

Things I did well
We have a fully developed workshop in place for our First Year Seminar classes that addresses evaluating websites. Even though this class was not my design, it has been the source of my most satisfying instructional experiences this semester, which is awesome because it’s also the class I teach most often. Related? Probably. I have found ways to make this class my own, and I feel that my personality comes across clearly.

Things I could do better
Bring more focus to non-FYS workshops. They often feel scattered to me. Slow down while talking. I admit I’m a fast talker, but I need to physically remind myself to slow down and be more comfortable with silence. This helps the students absorb and it also allows them space to ask questions.

Things I like to do
I love to connect with students, to talk with them about their research and frustrations, to advise them on strategies, to find that one thing they really need. I also like talking with the professors, gathering insight, and finding ways to support and help them. I absolutely love surprising professors with my ability to add value to their classes.

Things that aren’t my favorite
I dislike being the keeper of citation. I dislike having to teach citation because no one else wants to do it.

Things I wish I could do
I wish I could spend more time talking abstractly about information rather than always being slave to the final product. I feel like I’m doing a lot of “here’s how to find articles” classes, which are absolutely important because most students can’t do it, but I’d also like to be able to talk more about the field of information. Maybe I’m just missing grad school discussions?

How’s the end of semester looking for you?

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