This week I found myself more settled down in terms of my nervousness about if I’m going to be ready. I attribute that partially to being too tired to find the time to devote to that aspect and instead focused on what I needed to deliver to my students in terms of content this week.
Last week I realized that I needed to change what I had initially had planned to cover this week in my lecture. The students were already well versed in the basics of windows and so I felt that I needed to get them down into the nitty-gritty of how these things work beyond what they can see when they are interacting with windows. I spent hours preparing a PowerPoint slideshow that I felt still needed a lot of refinement before it was shown to a student. Due to my work schedule, that wouldn’t be allowed to happen, but I felt like I had the content I needed to get across. But more on that later.
When I got to class and setup for the day I had my first run in with students making excuses for assignments not submitted by the due date. This is something I had been warned about from many people before I even started planning the course. I had already set my policy out the first class and posted it multiple times where the students could find it. It was easy to fall back on my policies on day two and I was thankful I had them. If I hadn’t established them from the beginning I could see how that slippery slope would have claimed me before the mid term was even administered.
Once that was over I got the conversation that I was expecting, but still felt like it knocked me back a little. I was asked what we were covering in class tonight. Before I could even answer another student chimed in with what was on the syllabus. I was happy to see that people were reading that, but the first students response was “So what we already know. Can I just do the homework now and leave early?” I had a million questions in my head to ask in response to this. How do you know that you already know this when I haven’t even given you anything beyond the topic headings yet? Are you trying to stand out in front of the other students are the know it all? Are you trying to challenge what I had established the previous class as the structure I had developed for the semester? I thought of myself when I was in this class 12 years ago and feeling the same way. I then thought about what would happen if I let them do what they were asking. I would not only not be setting a bad example that if a student felt like they knew everything I had to cover they could just ignore me, do the work, and leave, but I would also undermine my ability to lead the classroom. I also thought about myself as the student that did get away with that and how much more I could have learned if I had been challenged. I ended up telling them that they could work on the labs when we got to the lab part of the class and if they finished early they could start on the homework. I figured that would get me through this class, but I’d need to find a way to engage them more going forward.
I began my class and followed the structure I had established and didn’t let anyone break from it. I started in on the presentation and the students that I expected would be taking notes got their paper out and pens ready. The others just followed along, at least for the first few slides. When I got into the material that I had to refresh myself on as I hadn’t used it in 12 years, I saw the rest of the students pull out their notebooks and begin writing. This was a great feeling, I was delivering information that they weren’t familiar with and actually educating them.
While I believe my slides were just a broad overview, I still think there needs to be a lot more interactivity while presenting. I had built in Question slides in between sections to make sure I addressed the topic I was just covering before moving on. I found that I had placed them at the correct spots as when I was flipping to that slide hands went into the air to ask more practical application questions. I still feel like my presentation was too much lecture and not enough student participation. I’ll need to adjust future presentations to try and invoke more responses.
I have a lot more from this week that I picked up, but for now I’ll focus on these bits.