With the new week ahead, I thought I might take two seconds to reflect on the completion of last week's workshop for teachers. It was an interesting experience and in some way exactly what I expected, whereas completely unexpected in other ways. This was not an easy assignment, based on the huge range of teacher experience and the grade range. We had everything from 6th grade science teachers who graduated undergrad with a business degree to 12th grade AP Bio teachers with an MSc. Suffice to say that lecturing to the median alienated both extremes, but we worked with it as best we could. Some quick observations:
1) Teachers complain about getting homework! I found this hilarious, since this was a course for graduate credit and we only asked the to read one article on each of the two nights. Despite this minor load, probably 40% of the course evaluations made a comment along the lines of "the course would have been better without homework". WTF?
2) Some things never change. The "students" who needed to pay attention the most where the first ones to check out and do things like play games on their phones.
3) Teachers are largely unaware that university faculty are willing to either host students for a lab field trip or go to classrooms. Although I wouldn't do this on a monthly basis, I would certainly be up for student interaction a couple of times a semester. One of the teachers actually asked me what the hourly rate is for me to come to classes. Hmmmmmmm.
4) Teaching this class with a grade school teacher has been tremendously helpful. I don't think the teachers would have gotten nearly as much from the course without the mix of our experience.
5) Overall, the group was engaged and asked really good questions. I would say that if the class populations was a reasonable representation of the local teachers, our kids are in pretty good hands.
6) Even when I am struggling a bit, I can convince a room of adults that I know what I'm talking about. Some of the questions that came up were on things I haven't thought hard about for over a decade. Between having to access the far reaches of my brain and having some out of class issues on my mind (a post for another day), there were a few points where I felt I stumbled a bit with the information. Despite this, the class evaluations were pretty supportive, which was nice.
7) No matter what the course is, the first time around is always an experiment. I was teaching in a new environment to an unusual group of students on material slightly outside of my work with a person I had no experience teaching with. Given all the unknowns, it is surprising how well it went.
Now we make our adjustments for round two and tackle that this week. Looking forward to tweaking the course and seeing if we can improve on the groundwork we laid last week.