Topic: Bang Your Head on Your Desk - the thread of teaching despair!

Started by the_geneticist, May 21, 2019, 08:49:54 AM

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"I know you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure that what you heard was not what I meant."


Quote from: RatGuy on July 03, 2024, 11:46:26 AM
Quote from: the_geneticist on July 03, 2024, 08:40:56 AM
Quote from: mythbuster on July 01, 2024, 11:55:06 AMIf your freshman labs are like ours the criteria for passing is 1) Show up and 2) Follow the directions. It's a surprisingly high bar for some.

It's the showing up that is hard, especially during Summer Sessions.  Even more so because the co-requisite lecture is remote & asynchronous

Today (Wednesday) is the first day of my summer session. Tomorrow is a federal holiday, so classes resume on Friday.

Out of the 13 students enrolled in my course, 5 have emailed to say they won't be attending until Monday (the class meets every day).

QuoteI don't know. Whoever decided to start RatGuy's classes the Friday after July 4th (if in the U.S.) could have thought that through a little bit more. And if I ended my vacay three days early just to have the professor jibber-jabber through the syllabus and cut us out early on day one (something too many of us still tend to do), I'd be pretty miffed.

Summer sessions tend to be intensive; classes here typically run from 3-4 hours daily depending on the course. RatGuy's 5 students appear to have missed anywhere from six to eight hours of class (classes started on Wednesday, according to RatGuy). None of the professors I know "jibber-jabbers" through the syllabus. During the first day of class, I spend no more than 20 minutes on the syllabus, and then launch into instruction right away. If classes started on Wednesday, there would be low-stakes assignments due on Friday, and more low-stakes reading and writing assignments due the following Monday. When I've taught in summer our classes would be 4 hours long, four or five days a week, depending on the course.


I hear you, Doc, but I would tend to do what works best for me, and having a significant number of students coming in on Monday totally clueless wouldn't be good for me. I would post some videos to help the absentees keep up, or to have them refer to if they totally blew off the course the first two days.

That said, I teach summer courses that I've taught online for 20 years, so I have a functional video archive ready to go. If this was my first time teaching the summer class, I might not be so eager to post videos. The videos would not replace being in class, but I would have a response to that stupid question, "Did I miss anything?"

I've seen quite a few "jibber-jabberers" on day one; however, like you, I like to jump into the material on day one. Letting them go early on the first day sets a bad precedent.
I wish I could find a way to show people how much I love them, despite all my words and actions. ~ Maria Bamford


Quote from: fishbrains on July 08, 2024, 07:52:41 AMI've seen quite a few "jibber-jabberers" on day one; however, like you, I like to jump into the material on day one. Letting them go early on the first day sets a bad precedent.

OMG yes.  We are on quarters so we really can't afford to short students on contact hours.
My philosophy on labs is that if the students complete everything, share their data, & clean up; they can leave early.  No point in holding them for no reason.  Most students should be able to complete the entire lab with a bit of time left.

Alas, I have TAs that make this harder.

"I know class started 10 minutes ago, but I'm going to be nice & not start it yet" TAs.  They don't realize that starting late rewards late students.
"But I need to lecture/I'll just give a quick review/I need to personally demonstrate every single thing!" TAs who waste time talking when the students should be working.
"OMG! Class ends in 30 minutes! *panic* *panic*" TAs who need to calm down & remind themselves that 30 minutes is a lot of time.
"I now class ends at X:XXpm, but it's late, you can just go." evening lab TAs who refuse to make the students clean up (and then also don't clean the room themselves).

And I've had all of these behaviors in a memorable few (who have thankfully graduated)


I definitely go through the syllabus on the first day but I don't consider it "jibber-jabbering", mostly because the vast majority of my teaching has been at community colleges and I teach a course that many students take in their first semester; in fact I view my class as both teaching the subject and teaching how to succeed in college. 

That said, students don't get let go early; I include an activity that tests how much students actually know about my topic (most come in thinking it will be easy and they already know most of it).  Students tend to be a bit concerned when they score right about at chance (it's a true-false test), and I like to think it makes them pay a bit more attention to the material.

In summer classes or one-day-a-week classes, I definitely start lecturing/flipped activities during the first class; there's too much to cover to let students go that early.


@fishbrains, it's good that you have a set of videos for students who miss the first day or two of class. Our classes are more like workshops, so students are given prompts, then write, then read aloud, then get feedback from classmates and also from me, all of which helps them with their first assignment. We also don't have the luxury of soft-pedaling on the first day because that would penalize the students who showed up, prepared for class. Many of our students have jobs, so when I've taught evening classes, I've had students who worked in construction, in stores, as nannies, all of whom expect to be taught. Some of the students also have to arrange for child care, in addition to traveling long distances to come to class. The few students who miss class either get their act together once they see how much they've missed, or end up getting Ds and Fs. Missing the first day of the summer session would be like missing the first week of class which makes it very difficult to catch up.


I think we are agreeing that different classes/professors would approach the problem differently out of necessity.

Oddly enough, quite often it's my working parents who struggle with the timing of vacations/kids' summer activities/etc. It gets even worse around spring break and fall break when every school system in the area is on a different schedule.
I wish I could find a way to show people how much I love them, despite all my words and actions. ~ Maria Bamford