Thoughts on my first session at a new job

Yesterday was the final day of first session at my new job.  I always like to reflect at the end of every semester/session on what I liked and didn’t, what worked and didn’t, and how I can improve.  Usually I keep a little file going on my computer, but I might as well just put it on my blog.

Starting in the summer is both a blessing and a curse.  It was a little less lively than I imagine our fall session will be, and there weren’t as many people working, so I feel like I didn’t get to know my co-workers very well.  On the other hand, everyone treats the summer sessions almost like they don’t count, so I got to try a lot of fun new stuff in the classroom without any real pressure.

I may have overworked my reading students (but they actually told me they liked it).  I love teaching reading so much, and I always have so many ideas, but I need to find a balance so that my students have a reasonable amount of work to do, and I’m not buried in grading.

I’m sure I underworked my speaking/listening students (Firefox is telling me “underworked” isn’t a word).  They were much more advanced than I was expecting, and I feel sometimes with language skills, you reach a limit on how much you can actually teach your students before they really just don’t need you anymore.

I’ve got to find a better way to collect my students’ writing assignments.  I always wind up with crazy stacks of papers that get all out of order.  And then I swear I won’t accept emailed assignments, and I always do.

Here’s what went well: one thing I always strive to do as a teacher is to enjoy my students.  It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong in the class, but I try to find what each class brings to the learning experience.  Every class, every semester, it’s something new, and the longer I teach, the more I find myself able to adapt to these changing dynamics.

This session, my writing class wanted to joke around and goof off.  So, I brought humor into the class.  If they want to laugh, let’s laugh and learn.  I came up with funny writing topics, and I used students in the class as examples (they loved laughing at each other).

My reading class was ridiculously TOEFL-driven.  So, I took TOEFL-prep exercises and created extended lessons out of them.  They felt challenged, and I didn’t spend the whole time teaching to a test.

My speaking/listening class thought they were too good to be in the program.  So, I took a backseat, and I let them run things.  I frequently found myself sitting in the back of the room, watching the students engage with each other.  They chose our discussion topics, they led discussions.

What a session. Can’t wait for the fall.

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