Monday, November 22, 2021

Hanging In There

 I'm on the edge of either overwhelmed or not.  I'm not quite sure.

But I'm absolutely looking forward to the Thanksgiving break!

Last week, I helped out with 12 job interviews for our sister institution.  That was a lot. 

The biggest problems I saw:  

Jabbering on and losing focus on the question.  Pro tip: when you're listening to the question, write down the one or two keywords.  Make sure to answer the question.  And then stop.  If you're not sure if you should stop, take a breath and say something such as, "I'm happy to go into more depth here, but don't want to go on too long on this one question."  It's better to leave people wanting more than to leave them hoping they'll never hear you talk again.

Not understanding the difference between assessment and grading.  If the interview asks you about grading, talk about grading.  If they ask you about assessment, that's different.  That's about how you figure out if students have learned x or y.  There may be some overlap with grading, but not necessarily.  In a make-believe world, you'd give a pre-test and a post-test, and be able to point to improvement and voila assessment!  In the real world, you ask students to do something that specifically demonstrates that they've learned X or Y.  It can be a small thing (it probably should be a small thing for many Xs and Ys), but it should be something that tells you that students have learned X and Y and you can move on to Z, or that they haven't, in which case you need to take another shot at X and Y.  Sometimes a final exam does this, but if students don't demonstrate the learning, you don't get another shot to help them.  So smaller stuff along the way gives you that chance.  (I HATE the BS part of assessment, the filling in numbers and writing reports about the reports of filling in numbers.  But real assessment, thoughtful work to figure out what's working or not, that's absolutely useful.)

Not thinking about the difference between a teaching philosophy and teaching practice.  If an interview asks for your philosophy, they're asking for the reasoning behind what you do in a classroom or in creating assignments, and such.  If they ask what you do in a class, then they're asking you how you bring that philosophy into practice.


We spent today in my senior seminar working on concept maps for their final projects.  They turned in their annotated bibliographies today, so hopefully they've all made a start on their project.  And now, if things went reasonably well, they've got the concept map well underway (it's due on Monday of next week).  We finished the hour by writing a short plan of action for what to do next for their project.

I'm absolutely convinced that they write better final projects for my classes (than they would otherwise) because I build in steps to have them get started early and build in class time for some of the work.

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