Sunday, September 10, 2006

Resolutions for the semester

I've been getting a LOT of emails from my first year students, more than I remember from any class in the past, asking pretty basic questions; yes, some of the questions have already been answered in class, but most of them haven't. I forgot to tell my students to double space their typed work, for example, and have been asked about that more than a few times. I've been asked about formatting.

I'm taking the questions as a good sign. Or I'm hoping they're a good sign, anyway. I'm hoping they mean that I actually did communicate to these people that asking questions when you don't know something is actually a great thing, and not something to avoid. (Though, yes, I hate to ask questions sometimes, too, especially if I think people will think I'm stupid. I'd be my own worst student, I fear.)

The upshot, though, is that I need to keep that in mind when I answer the questions, every time. EVERY time.

I'm not the most patient person in the world, and I have a tendency to respond impatiently at times. Sometimes my response isn't so much impatience as coastal attitude. Coastal attitude doesn't fly well here in the midwest, though, especially with students who are understandably on edge in their first semester of college.

My second resolution is to grade more quickly and efficiently. Oh, that should be easy. NOT! But I need to do it.

I also need to find a way to fight winter, to get out and get some exercise even on the gray days when the cold bites through layers of long underwear and fleece.

That's all. I need to start reading student papers now. FAST! And then get out and do something!


  1. Ooh, I'd love to hear what you mean by coastal attitude...

  2. "coastal attitude"--what a PERFECT description! Now that I'm living in The Interior, I really understand what you mean!

  3. Good resolutions all. I definitely sympathize about the asking them to ask questions and then remembering to be patient when they do thing. Since I've just moved away from the sweet, earnest midwesterners, I'm curious to see if a better attitudinal match makes me more patient or less.

  4. I found that fast grading was only accomplished with a good grading matrix and a stopwatch. I'd read a few papers fast to figure out how fast was fast...then I'd set a number of papers I needed to get done in 5 or 10 minutes. This kept me going near the bottom of the stack -- where my mind would wander and the internet would call...

  5. I've taken a page from the online classes and ask my students to email their questions to the Q&A discussion board. For the most part -- they get answers from their peers far faster than I could ever respond. It also makes me feel a little less like the private tutor for 140 students. Of course, I still take personal issues privately, but I'd say 90% of the questions are getting answered on the public board.

  6. Hilaire - Coastal attitude's a little hard to define. It's a broad generalization, and so, like all generalizations, patently false. More outward and in your face; my humor tends toward dryness and irony, and neither flies well with first year students, but especially not earnest midwestern first year students. Maybe Tiruncula or Terminal can explain better?

    Inside - I need a stopwatch! Ooo, a new toy AND faster grading! Irresistable!

    Timna, GREAT idea! I put it to work as soon as I saw it! Like all great ideas, it's obvious once someone else says it! Thanks!