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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The calm before the storm

Classes start next week. I opened up my Blackboard courses on Tuesday (i.e., made them accessible to students), which means some of the students in my Econ for Teachers course are likely to show up here (welcome!) since there's a link on the Blackboard site. Everything is pretty much done (well, except for all the stuff that's not) and at this point, I'm just hoping I haven't overlooked anything major. I'm trying so many new things and in the weeks ahead, I'm sure I'll have lots to think about as I evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the new things is the letter I sent to my Principles students. I may have some issues with Blackboard as a 'learning' management system but I have to say, the ability to send email to 500 students, before classes even start, is pretty useful. My objective with the email was to get a jump on some of the more frequently-asked questions I get about buying course materials, and to make sure that students really understand how open I am to having them contact me, since I know that with a class this large (and at a big state University like mine in general), some students will think that they shouldn't "bother" me. I also wanted to plant the seed in their minds that even though it's huge, this class is not going to be just another sit-back-and-passively-listen kind of experience. Of course, that also stresses me out, since the more I set up that expectation, the more important it obviously becomes for me to make sure that the class really is interactive.

So my struggle now is simply with my own expectations for myself. I know that nothing will be 'perfect', especially this first time around, and I keep trying to remind myself that teaching is an iterative process; whatever I don't like this semester, I can fix the next time around. In fact, one of my former students has already pointed out, in the comments to my previous post, my letter needs fixing because it may have been confusing to many students (yeah, that comment didn't stress me out at all...). It's just hard to squelch that part of me that really wants it to be right THIS time.

4 comments:

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  2. I'm sure it'll go fine! Students usually appreciate professor efforts to make things more involved tech-wise. :)

    Until then, enjoy the calm while you can and Labor Day weekend, too, Jennifer!

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  3. I appreciated your letter to the large course and did not find it confusing or weird. Seemed to demonstrate genuine concern for your students and set a good tone for learning. Best wishes for a great semester!

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  4. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

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