Monday, May 12, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin

Yup, once the first day is over, you can officially begin the countdown. Seven more days of summer school! Only seven!!

As much as I'm not relishing the experience of getting up and going in to school tomorrow to teach, and then doing the same thing the day after, and then the day after that (repeat four more times), there is something significantly different in the summer-school vibe. I don't know how to explain it. I'm in the classroom; I'm teaching. I'm doing the dance. But I'm not exhausted at the end, I'm not gritting my teeth through some classroom discussions. [I was ravenous by the end of class, but I suppose that's to be expected.]

We'll see how this goes as I continue on, but for right now, it could definitely be worse. And why is that? A number of reasons, heretofore described as the rules governing "if you're going to teach summer school, do it like this."
Rule #1: Teach something you know.
Rule #2: Teach something you've taught before.
Rule #3: Carefully consider what can be taught in a shortened period. For instance, I wouldn't be teaching a class on the 19th C. novel right now. Not that I would be teaching that anyway (see rules 1 and 2).
Rule #4: Be realistic about what the students can absorb and how. For instance, my class by rights should meet 5-6 hours a day. How many of us could discuss or write about something for 6 hours straight? I moved part of this class online, and that has made a world of difference, both for the students and for me.
Rule #5: If possible, limit the number of students. Last summer, I taught the class with 12 students. This summer, it's 7. That's largely due to a registrar error, but boy, 5 fewer students is 5 fewer chances of random meltdowns. (Of course, a student did tell me this morning that she might have to leave class because her boyfriend was attending a bail hearing. !!)

What else makes summer school teaching less painful?



Blogger Ashley said...

SEVEN days? Seven?

Monday, May 12, 2008 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

I know right? It's either awesome or diabolical, I haven't figured it out yet. It's really only half a class, credit-wise, if that makes you feel any better...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 8:10:00 AM  
Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

I'm in the middle of a 4 hour a day, 12 day semester. I completely agree with your advice. I'd add: Change things up as often as possible: discussion, then group work, then in-class writing, etc. Too much of one thing is deadly for everyone involved. My other word of advice: movies.

I only wish I had the option of limiting enrollment; I've got 30 students and the hardest thing about this entire compressed semester is the unbelievable, endless grading. Can't wait until it's over.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 6:45:00 PM  

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