January, and the first half of February, is one of the two busiest times of my year (the second has usually been around July). This is when I work three jobs: one tech writing and two teaching. Since my time for “extra” stuff is very limited around this month, I decided today that I want my first goal to be teaching-related–that way I can hopefully achieve my improvement goal within the confines of tasks I am already doing.
At first, I thought I might want to do some kind of pedagogical analysis of my college course, but the thing is, I don’t know if I will even have that job again after May, since (short version), the university I work for has had a lot of budget cuts, and the new chair doesn’t know me/my teaching abilities, and so has little incentive to keep throwing a class section my way.
It makes better productivity sense (if not necessarily financial sense) then, to focus my efforts on the nonfiction workshop I teach twice a year. I’ve taught several rounds of this class already, and one thing I’d really like to do is change up some of the readings after this session. I worked hard to make sure that women, WOC, and non-American writers were included in my readings list, and I’d like to add more voices of LGBTQ, disabled, and translated writers next time. The first part of my first goal — BE A BETTER TEACHER — will be to determine which readings generate the least amount of conversation, and think out loud a bit about why that might be, and identify some contenders for next session. This isn’t about labeling any of the current writing I reference as boring, or ranking it, but simply gauging its usefulness to the student of writing for asking or answering questions about craft.
And since I believe that teaching should be an active process where both the students and I am learning, the second part of this goal will be to learn more about the effectiveness of my own teaching in my areas of expertise. To that end, I commit to entering both class discussion spaces every single “work” day in the month of January, and I am going to try and learn at least one thing about either my teaching or my subject from each day. The first class starts on the 8th and the second on the 22nd, so I’ve got some time, I’d like to spend some of it auditioning new readings.
- http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/the-universe-began-with-a-big-melt-not-a-big-bang a physics essay by Thanu Padmanabhan, a distinguished professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, in India.
- https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/12/people-can-be-afraid-of-anything/383837/ a personal essay on phobias and their treatments by Kate Horowitz.
- https://aeon.co/ideas/the-idea-of-creating-a-new-universe-in-the-lab-is-no-joke science journalism by Dr. of theoretical cosmology and Londoner, Zeeya Merali.