Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Online Teacher Returns to the Physical Classroom

I last taught in a physical classroom in December 2009.  Of course, I've done teaching of sorts since then:  leading retreats, leading a class here and there, presenting information.  But traditional teaching for a school term in a physical classroom?  It's been awhile.

The tradition used to be that when a person was promoted to department chair, that person didn't have to teach for a year.  In 2010, I was promoted to department chair of the General Education department.  I stopped teaching for a year, and for a variety of reasons, I wasn't required to teach again.  Loss of staff meant that more and more non-teaching responsibilities were given to me, and teaching fell away.

Two years ago, I returned to teaching when I was offered the opportunity to teach online classes.  I had issues/worries with online classes, but I could see the way the wind was blowing.  I wanted to have the experience, should I be forced to find another job.  I didn't expect to love it as much as I have come to love it.

I will be interested in seeing how my online teaching has changed the way I approach my physical classroom.  I expect that I will be sending out more e-mails and trying other ways to stay in touch with students and keep them on task.  Our onground classes meet only once a week--it's easy for students to go astray.  I'll use some of the techniques I've learned from online classes to try to keep from losing them.

I've been wrestling with eCompanion, our learning management system.  It's clunky--but then, I have yet to find an elegant LMS.  Maybe clunkiness is a feature, not a bug.

I'm teaching what we call Topics for Composition, a sort of Composition II class.  Instead of using a book of essays as models, I'll be bringing in my own essays.

I think of when I first started teaching writing, back when I was an idealistic grad student.  All those years I had been saying, "If I was the English teacher, I'd run the class this way."  And now I had a class of my own.

I was surrounded by like-minded grad students teaching for the first time.  We talked about writing communities and how to build community in the classroom.  I tried all sorts of peer editing.  I never took my own writing to my students.

For this quarter, I am keeping my class simple, while at the same time, I'm already thinking of ways I could enrich it in the future.

It was good to take a break from teaching.  But the last two years have taught me that I really do love it.  I do have some skills and talents in this direction.

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