Archive for October, 2008

What it Takes to Teach

Posted on October 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Co-teaching a U-Engage (freshman seminar) lecture this term has proved to be a challenging and eye-opening experience in a number of ways. It has also confirmed in my mind some of my strengths as an educator and the areas in which I need for experience and training.

The greatest challenge thus far has been trying to make a connection to 60 students at one time in a lecture setting. This challenge has been compacted by the fact that I have missed one class due to a family event and that one class included a guest speaker, who spoke for the majority of the class time. This coming week will feature another series of guest speakers, which should leave room for very little time for me and the other lecturers to interact/teach the students. There are several benefits to these guest speakers. For one, I am certain that the information our guests are providing is very valuable to incoming students and that they enjoy hearing from a variety of different people. It is also beneficial to me as a instructor (I don’t have to present as much info) and beneficial to the guest speakers who get to make connections with students and promote their office’s support and services. At the same time it cuts down on my teaching time and this is hard because I want to grow and learn from as many teaching experiences as possible. Based on the syllabus, it would seem as though there will be more opportunities to lead lectures towards the end of the term, which will be great, however I wonder if the guest speakers could be more spread out in order to provide more students-iinstructor time earlier in the term.

In an effort to redirect my energies I have taken on several behind the scenes tasks to help improve the class. I recognize that the peer leaders who facilitate the recitation sessions have more one-on-one time with students and therefore more influence. I have made it a point to respond quickly and accurately to any questions they have had and frequently check in with them to make sure things are going well. I have created scoring rubrics for two of our larger assignments and learned to post necessary items to Blackboard. I am in constant communication with my co-instructors and have collaborated with them to make several important decisions regarding classroom policies and procedures. I hope to communicate my experiences in such a way that the U-Engage course is easier to teach and more beneficial to take in the future.

Thus far the class has required several of my strengths: detail-oriented work, quick, effective decision making/problem solving, and thoughtful written communication of ideas. In the future I hope to work on some of my weaker areas: speaking/teaching in large groups, thoughtful verbal communication of ideas, and finding a balance between being an effective and entertaining instructor.

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The Second Year Starts

Posted on October 20, 2008. Filed under: My Evolution, Uncategorized |

Week 4 is about to start. I am one-tenth of my way through my second and final year of graduate school and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to write about it. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I spent a significant part of both Wk 1 and 2 out of the state and fighting my first real cold in a number of years, but I’m not quite willing or ready for Week 4 to arrive.

There’s something about this second year that feels oddly stressful. I think this comes from a somewhat irrational belief that the start of this year shouldn’t be at all stressful. After all, I should have my full program of study in front of me (NO), be completely solid on my area of specialization (NO), have a clear understanding of the exact departments and jobs I will be focused on come job search season (NO) and have memorized my competency plans like the back of my own hand (Hey, look at that new freckle, where did that come from?). The truth is I have come into this year with much greater expectations of myself and perhaps as a result have been dealing with feelings of inadequacy that definitely rival my first year.

I’m sure that some of these feelings will dissipate as the term unfolds and I create greater structure for myself and my future pursuits. Right now I’m in the process of solidifying my potential change in area of specialization and making sure I can get the classes I need in order to graduate. I’m in the process of developing a plan of action to create new challenges within my assistantship and am looking forward to the new ones that will come my way in my internship with UESP. As for the job search, I’m not quite sure that will be solid any time soon, there are still too many variables at play and I don’t feel obligated to put myself in this or that corner right now. As for the portfolio and competencies well… they are a work in progress. If there is one thing I’ve learned from my organization and administration class thus far, it is that humility can be one of a leader’s greatest strengths. I am humble enough to admit that even after I graduate I will have much to learn about many areas of student affairs. With this being said, I am confident that I have and will continue to increase my capacity to understand and apply all of the CSSA competencies to my daily work and at the end of the day I will be satisfied with this knowledge.

The second year has started out stressful but with any luck it will end with much self-defined success.

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional


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