After teaching for over 30 years, you’d think I’d have it down by now, but I still change things up every semester. This semester, I am trying to give students a “group” assignment at the beginning and end of every class, and this usually entails them coming up to the board in a group to do some problems. I have them write everyone’s first name and first letter of last name on the board. They also have to do the work on their own paper, which they must keep organized by date and whether it was done at the beg or end of class. So it might be labeled 2/2/15Beg. This gets them to class on time, up and working immediately, helps students to learn names of other students, etc. I wander around to make comments, help, etc. Then I give everyone credit if their name is on the board, or I might collect the sheets occasionally, or one student’s sheet with names of group members on it. It’s like a participation grade and I don’t have a bunch of quizzes to collect, grade, and return anymore, which is what I’ve always done in the past. They must be there at beg and end of class, and I just put a √. It’s worth a small percentage of their grade. At times throughout the semester (or maybe only at end of semester or on test days), I’ll have them put the pages in order and give them more points for keeping them. Anyone who missed an assignment can get that credit at that time so it encourages them to find out what they missed and do it. Sometimes, I might give them credit for still being in class at the end. They never know. Also if they keep all the papers, it’s a good study guide of important problems. At the end of class, this gives me time to put away all the electronic and other stuff I have out during class (doc cam, books, paper, pens, candy, etc. ) while they start their problem so I can be ready to get myself and all my stuff out of class before the next class comes in. I was used to having no class come in after my class ended, but that’s different this semester, so I don’t have the luxury of hanging out in the room for an extra 30-60 minutes anymore.
Last semester while observing a tenure candidate, I noticed she passed out mints half way through class. I adopted that and sometimes put choc kisses in a baggie along with the wrapped mints in a big container that circulates during class. I think they really like that little candy. I heard peppermint helps the brain in some way too, but I’m not sure about that. They look forward to this little kindness.
Lastly, I’m writing all my own materials for my class which is absolutely exhausting and time-consuming. But it is SO much better once I’m in the classroom and all material they see (and watch on YouTube) is by me as I know it inside and out.
I love teaching!