May 10, 2012

Semester Over! How’d it go?

Well, the semester is over besides the tedious job of finishing up all my grading and turning in final grades. HOW DID IT GO?

Pretty well, I suppose.

This semester was most definitely a learning experience all around. I was expanding out of my comfort zone, teaching new stuff and generally being way the fuck more busy than I ever have been before. Well, mostly, anyway. I felt like I learned a lot, and I feel like next semester will be way more productive and useful than this one for my students because of what I learned. I do.

The biggest hurdle this semester was, totally, dealing with teaching my two “remedial” classes. It was just an experience I had never really had before, besides some one-off tutoring sessions with people at SEMO, and it was way different. I was dealing with people who had basically no confidence, and who did not understand things that, to me, seemed so very, very basic. I get why many people would not understand how to use a lot of the basic techniques of writing which I teach in most of my classes, but stuff like being unable to figure out what the main idea of a paragraph is? It’s kind of… weird. It requires a completely different style of teaching that I never really associated with college before. At the same time, in a lot of ways, it doesn’t. It requires you to treat them like they know what they’re doing, and force them to do things they’re uncomfortable with, in order to get them to the point where they can actually do what they need to do in order to survive. Forcing my reading class students to try to use these skills outside of the multiple choice format of the textbook was one of the smartest things I did. They struggled and hated it, but it gave them actual experience. It was nice. Same with my essay class. I graded them the same as anyone, just required shorter papers over easier topics. But I still pushed them to have transitions, and to write things that were worth reading. I didn’t give them a pass because they were struggling and, for the most part, they stepped up to the challenge.

Really, though, this semester was all a lesson in time management. Keeping track of four classes, what I’m doing in them and what is coming up, is hard! I normally just trust my brain to sort that stuff out, but with multiple classes on different time schedules doing similar things, I got confused pretty often. I am going to take WAY better notes next semester. Definitely.

Anyway, as much as I’m dreading a summer working at Kohl’s, I am glad it’s over and I can take a breather from teaching for awhile. It’s fun, it’s worthwhile, it’s what I want to do with my life at this point, but damn, is it draining sometimes. Taking a little while to do mindless work and hang out with boyfriends and stuff is exactly what I need.

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