Thursday, February 4, 2021


 When I was a young man and started teaching I would walk into the class with several items on a piece of paper. I'd write the items on the blackboard and use the outline as a guide.  Probably took me about a half hour to create the outline and review my notes.

Now, many more years around the track, with much more experience, having taught some courses dozens of times--it can take me, easily, two hours to prepare for the same class. And then subsequently an hour or two to process what took place and get ready for the next time.

Add to this the fact that I am teaching remotely during COVID, and at the end of a day when I have only one 100 minute class I am whipped, and on the days when I teach two 100 minute classes, I am ready for the sack at about 930, 10 at the latest.

This is my second semester teaching remotely.  Last March when the world changed, I had no idea how to do it. I had, in fact, taken a remote course on how to teach remotely, and did just fine in the class--but it was like taking Russian in high school and then being plonked down in Moscow.  I needed to learn how to speak Russian in Russia.

For both the Fall and Spring terms I had to start a half month ahead of time to prepare the documents that go on CANVAS, and to arrange my class sessions to have them make sense in a remote format. I think I have it now, though I am still learning.  (A tip of the hat to our I.T. people who have been stunningly patient--particularly given how ornery I imagine some faculty can be).  I have some very good students this semester and the students last semester were similarly responsible.  The students are responsive to the assignments and come prepared to discuss the content each day.  Yet for 100 minutes I am on. Remote teaching requires engagement and interactivity that is not necessary to the same extent in on ground teaching--at least it seems to me.  If I had weak students I don't know if I could make it through a semester.  

The good news is that my commute is an hour less and I don't have to pay the otherworldly charges for parking.  I nearly have to remind myself how to fill the gas tank when, every few weeks, I am near empty.  Also, I am not standing for an hour which, for a fellow in need of a hip, is a blessing.  Our campus is compact, but still one can have a class in a building half a mile away from the next one you are scheduled to be at.  

It will be interesting to see how I feel when I go back in the classroom.  For now, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn the new technology, though of course wish the reasons were different.  I wonder how 26 year old me would have handled the same challenge. Coming in with an outline that I worked at for a half hour, would not be a viable approach.

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