Saturday, May 21, 2016

Speaking of Learning: Learn Self-control

So CDI this past week was quite stressful. From Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, we discussed: 
  • Course goals vs. objectives
  • Assessments: to measure or not? 
  • Do I know the subject so well that I don't realize what my students don't know? 
  • In-class activities: are they engaging or is it busy work? 
  • Et cetera, et cetera.
Addressing these kinds of questions and confronting my own syllabus was pretty intense. So to alleviate some of the stress--I guess--they made sure we had PLENTY OF FOOD. So everyday at 8:30am we had breakfast, at 10:45am coffee break, 12:15 lunch. While it was not crazy good, it was better than the usual fare we've been served lately during these days of budget cuts and belt tightening: Tandoori chicken, salmon, shrimp and avocado sandwich, just to name some of the better options.

The killer, tho', was the snacks. In the back of the study room, there was a table with a large urn of coffee, water, soda and FOOD: 
  • Fruit (bananas, plums, apples, and--omigod!--cherries!)
  • Energy bars (Special K, granola, and--oh no!--peanut butter W/ DARK chocolate)
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Potato chips (regular, wavy, ruffles, BBQ, and--my favorite!--kettle)
  • Muffins (plain, whole wheat, cranberry, blueberry and--gulp!--coconut)
  • And a bottomless bowl of small Trail Mix bags.
They were constantly restocking the table ALL DAY LONG. So of course, I had to try EVERY single treat available. And to confirm which one I liked, I had to try them again... and again. I was like a puppy dog who found open and unattended bags of Puppy Chow, Milk Bone and Beggin' Strips. I swear, I think 


So before I get back to work, I need to exercise a bit, maybe for a couple of weeks. I feel sluggish and kinda dumpy. Ugh!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Course Design Institute (CDI)

All week long, I participated in the Course Design Institute (CDI) at school. The goal was to awaken us to a Learning Centered approach to teaching. I am not against such an approach, but I learned that I am not as learning centered as I thought. I usually think:
  • Are students studying? 
  •  Did students do the reading? 
  •  Are they writing their paper? 
Of course, implicit in this attitude is the hope that student are learning.

But instead of focusing on what I want them to do--study, read, write--I should have focused more on what they want to do:
  • Are they learning? 
  •  Are they thinking about (engaged in) the topic? 
  •  What can I do to facilitate their comprehension of the subject? 
Well, I addressed my own demons, and focused on the issues that my students should address in my class on The Genji. Based on the ideas and feedback I received from my colleagues, I reworked my current syllabus and submitted it this morning and... I ended up with the second best syllabus/course design for the Institute this week! Woo hoo!

This is not official and the recognition comes with no prizes, but it was nice to be recognized by my peers and colleagues anyway.