I decided to rework one of my college writing classes this summer. I’ve made some changes throughout the years, but I am still using basically the same approach as when I started in 2010.
I am not sure if my approach is the most effective and teaching the same things the same way over and over gets boring for me. Additionally, Ivy Tech is shifting many of its classes from a 16-week format to an 8-week format, which gave me another reason to reassess and make adjustments to my class.
To begin this process, I evaluated my current set of assignments. Did they fulfill the course requirements? Would they help the students? Was I tired of them? For several years now, I’ve had my students write a paper about a personal experience that has impacted them. While the students gained writing skills from this assignment, I was ready to read a different kind of paper. I picked a new type of essay to replace this one.
Once I figured out a tentative list of assignments, I mapped out a schedule. I looked at what students would need to learn before each assignment. I also considered how shifting from a class that meets once a week for 16 weeks to one that will meet twice a week for 8 weeks would impact students. I like to give my students plenty of time to write drafts and then revise, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t assign a paper on Monday and have a draft due on Wednesday.
Finally, with the assignment schedule filled in, I turned to examining my in-class activities and the specific details of the assignments. Were the instructions and rubrics clear? Did I give the students enough practice on needed skills? I decided to use more class time to have students work on their own writing instead of just analyzing examples so I could give them more feedback.
I am excited to teach with new assignments and strategies when classes start next week. Reworking my class took effort, and I’m sure I will need to reassess as I see what works and what doesn’t, but I am hopeful that the changes I have made will be helpful for my students and refreshing for me as a teacher.
Are there activities or ways you do things in your life that need to be reworked? Doing what you’ve always done is easy and comfortable. I’ve thought about making big changes to my class for quite a while, but Ivy Tech’s shift in class schedules prompted me to follow through on my intentions to revise my class plans. Changes can be a good time to re-evaluate your routines.
Locally, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. just updated its safety and security procedures in response to recent U.S. school shootings and local threats. They followed a similar plan by evaluating their current procedures to see what might need to be changed, developing a plan and then determining the specific details of implementing the new procedures.
I challenge you to look at your life and find places that need adjustments. Is what you are doing effective, helpful, or still interesting to you? Did something change in your life that has prompted a new way of looking at your activities?
Perhaps you need a better way to track your spending or to handle chores. Now that school has started, is your morning routine working for you and your kids? Are you tired of cooking the same meals over and over again?
You can follow the process I used in reassessing my assignments or some other way that works for you, but put in the effort and you, too, may be excited to try things a new way.
Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at [email protected].