One of the upsides of teaching is that you get a fresh new start every term. Who doesn’t like a clean slate? Especially now that 2020 is in the rear view.
Did you put yourself into grading jail for too many hours? Did you get off on the wrong foot with some of your students? Did you have a part of your course that was designed to make simplify life but instead just complicated things? Was there a critical early piece that you felt you didn’t teach well and it kept the course from moving forward as you liked? Well, I’ve got great news: that semester was over. Now, you’ve got a fresh start!
Teaching and learning during the pandemic has been hard on all of us, and it’s pretty clear that things aren’t returning to normal until summer at the earliest. I figure you’ve already figured out a bunch of the things that you want to change, and it’s important to be easy on yourself during what is shaping up to be a semester with almost as many challenges as the last one.
Teaching the same every semester puts you on the pathway towards obsolescence. You don’t have to reinvent yourself, but it takes a bit of effort to stay fresh. Speaking of which, I still have a couple promotional copies of The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching, and would like to put them in the hands of people who would appreciate them. If you don’t have one yet and would like one, leave a comment on this post asking for one of the copies (anonymous is fine), and at the end of this week, I’ll randomly select two people and pop them in the post.
As an aside, a personal update about the me and this site: I’ve been quiet here for quite a while now, and you might have noticed that I barely posted in December. That’s because things have been really hard. I’ve had a variety of personal struggles, among other things, including a death in the family a few weeks ago, and I simultaneously have had a lot of moving pieces to juggle for work. You might recall that I’ve been assigned to direct my university’s fledgling Office Of Undergraduate Research, which means I’m not busy wrestling with Canvas or curriculum this year, but it turns out that being in charge of this kind of thing during a pandemic doesn’t seem to be any less difficult. I think I’ve managed to keep my head above the metaphorical water because I’ve had the wisdom to pause a variety of things (such as this site), and also, I’m a buoyant guy. In 2021, I’ll still be writing here, probably plenty more than last year, because gosh, I hope things get better. I now have taken an honest two weeks of pure time off, which hopefully has done me some good. I do have a few genuinely fun professional things on the horizon, so I’m looking forward to those things.