Thoughts on Teaching – The First Week – 8/30/2013
We are just finishing up the first week of classes. It is my eighth first week of classes since I got my first full-time teaching job, and it is certainly starting to feel relatively normal at this point. I was fairly prepared this semester going into my classes, which did help. My online class is pretty much set in place at this point until I am ready to do a major overhaul. So, it is largely a matter of updating the dates and links, and then that class is ready to go. The hybrid class was a bit more work, as I really did want to make some overhauls from what I did last year. However, my best-laid plans from the summer of spending a lot of time recreating the course did not pan out. As is true most academic years, I do my primary prep in the week before the semester starts, and so I get a limited amount of work done.
I did have one big change come my way in the week or so before classes started. Late in the week before our in-service week, I was asked (with refusal not really being an option) to take on another course. Our normal course load at my community college is 5 classes a semester. I normally have an overload, so I generally teach 6. As I was given this extra course, I am now teaching 7 classes this semester. 5 covered by my normal pay and 2 more at adjunct pay ($1800/course). So, my semester is now set at the highest number of students I have ever taught in one semester (around 230). There are two good things about this. First, I was given another online course section, so largely I just have to integrate in 30 more students to my existing course. There is not an extra course prep, just more students to respond to and grade. Second, I was given this extra section with enough time to be able to compensate for it in my assigned work load. I reduced the number of assignments in my online class and changed up some of the ideas that I had for my hybrid class in order to make up for the extra grading I knew I was going to have to do.
Now, we have reached the Friday of the first week of classes. I have met each of my hybrid classes twice, and they have now been divided up into the sections that meet once a week. I have fully introduced the course to them, and I have them set to be ready to start real class work next week. My online class is in its fifth day at this point, and, while there have been some questions and issues, I would say that this is one of the smoothest starts to the semester that I have had. In fact, things are really going so smoothly so far, that I am really waiting to see when the wheels are going to come off and the fist major crisis is going to begin.
For now, however, I think that the first week has been a success. I’ll write more specifics about the classes I’m teaching in the next couple of days, so I will get more into the nuts and bolts of the particular classes and talk about what I am doing, what I plan to do, and how things are going.