Friday, October 30, 2015

Inspirations from Observations and Bedraggled Flowers

I complain a bit about having to observe classes, especially when our observation load increases.  I'm happy to observe the classes that are part of my department; it's part of my job as an administrator, after all.  But now, the administrators are observing a wide variety of classes from a list that our corporate structure hands to us.

In some ways, it's ridiculous.  I go to an Intro to Video Production class, and I don't know enough about the content to understand if it's being taught well or not.

But in many ways, I'm no different than many of our students, who also do not have vast experience with the subject matter when they start. 

Yesterday I went to observe an Advertising class, where the students were divided into teams.  They had spent the last weeks developing an ad campaign for a mint.  I was intrigued by how different each campaign was.

I was reminded of why I like going out to observe classes.  In my office, I'm frequently seeing disgruntled students.   I'm hearing all the ways that teaching can go wrong.

In the classroom, I'm reminded of what we're doing well.

And some times, I pick up ideas.  My morning Topics for Composition class has moved into finding and evaluating sources.  Yesterday I had them do a Google search, a Google Image search, and a Google Scholar search.  For each search, they chose 3 sources, so 9 sources in all.  They had to write up an analysis of each source.

I got that idea years ago when I observed a History class and watched the teacher walk the class through a similar exercise.  And from one of my English colleagues, I got my idea for next week's class.  We'll do a similar exercise with sources that students get from our library's database.

It's interesting watching my students work.  I don't think that many/any of them had pulled up so many sources on one topic at once. 

Because I came to work early after doing an airport transport good deed, I left early.  I did some work with my online classes and then enjoyed an autumnal dinner of pork chops, apple/onion saut√©, and butternut squash.  Then we went for a walk to look at Halloween lights.   Then we took a quick swim in the pool--the unheated pool--before settling in to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Yes, that's our autumn down here.  We have yet to have our first cold front, so we still have daytime highs close to 90 degrees and humidity.  My potted mums look quite bedraggled on the porch, but the pumpkins aren't rotting yet.  We'll try to trigger autumn feelings with food and TV, while also enjoying the waning days in the pool.

I think of traditional carpe diem poems, which would use the autumnal imagery differently.  Perhaps I'll write one of my own.  A carpe diem poem for modern times, when we can no longer count on our weather patterns--yes, let me think on that.

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