Wherein Reality Defies my Expectations

I’ve been predicting that my 9:35 am class was going to be the easy/fun one, and the 2:20 class was going to be the difficult one.

The 9:35 am class filled up during early registration. That means, I think, that mostly honors students (with priority registration) got into the class. They should be easy, right?

The 2:20 class, on the other hand, didn’t get created until after almost everyone was registered. I figured I probably got a lot of students who had problems or bars on their registration (academic probation?) or who just put things off until the last minute.

How are we wrong? In the 9:35 am class, I had 4 absent (out of 20). I had at least another 4 who were notably late, two who I didn’t even let sign in for the day. In the second class, there were half as many tardy and absent. Guess which class is looking better now?

What went well?

  • Having students introduce each other went well.
  • I was surprisingly good with names today.
  • Talking about classes we liked/disliked, why we disliked them, and how this affected us/our behavior was productive.
  • Lots and lots of students participated.
  • I still am pleased with my little list of things to do from my last post, with one additional item added at the end:
  1. Show up on time for class.
  2. Bring a smile or a kind word for someone in our class every day.
  3. Stay in the classroom the entire class period.
  4. Participate.
  5. Use class time productively for our class work.
  6. Be professional.

What didn’t go so well?

  • I don’t feel like I did a good job of introducing the syallabus.
  • I had a brain-seizure on the class ending time in the morning class. First I was going to let them go early, then I ended up keeping them 5 minutes late.
  • I didn’t get through my outline on “What Is Mathematical Modeling” in either class; I didn’t start it at all in the second.
  • I didn’t talk up the writing center.

What do I want to make sure I do next time?

  1. I want to say, “I am happy to see you,” to my students.
  2. Go over prerequisites! Every once in a while I get someone in there who doesn’t have them; best to fix that now.
  3. Questions on the syllabus?
  4. Go over what is due soon and where to find it.
  5. Talk up the writing center.
  6. Talk up the amount of work required for this class! Scare a few off. This is not a blow-off class.
  7. Finish the outline on what is mathematical modeling.
  8. Give a LaTeX lesson so students can do my LaTeXercises and get to work on their first writing assignment.

In other unexciting just-do-it kind of news, I went for a nice walk today after getting home from work.

First Day of Class

The first day of class is coming up tomorrow. I have high hopes and many fears about this upcoming semester. Spring 2012 was an awesome semester. Fall 2012 was a long slog.

Somethings I want to do:

  1. Every day, I want to tell my students I am glad to see them. If I am having a bad day, I want to fake it ’til I make it, because I don’t want my students joining me in a bad day.
  2. I want students to work together. Taking advantage of my resources, especially my resources in terms of the people I know, has always been a great strength of mine. And the times when I’ve fallen on my face, I haven’t been doing this.
  3. I want us all to enjoy the class. When I am enjoying it, I work harder. This is probably also true of my students.
  4. I want to set a standard of professionalism for our assignments, especially the writing assignments. Last semester the sloppiness really got me down.

To start out, I want to have students pair up with someone they don’t know and who is not in the same major as they are.

  1. Get to know each other; introductions.
    • Learn your partner’s name so you won’t forget it!
    • Find something you have in common outside of school.
    • Find out something interesting about your partner that will help you (and the rest of us) remember your partner.
    • You will introduce your partner to the class.
  2. Discuss a (math) class you really didn’t like much. What made it that way? Remember who you were in that class; how did the class affect your behavior?
  3. Discuss a (math) class you really liked. What made it that way? Remember who you were in that class; how did the class affect your behavior?

With this, I want us to start to get to know each other and how we want to behave in this class.

I want my students to

  • Show up on time for class.
  • Bring a smile or a kind word for someone in our class every single day.
  • Stay in the classroom for the entire class period.
  • Participate.
  • Use class time productively for class work.

Of course, this list applies to me too!

I want to introduce and promote the writing center.

Syllabus: no exams! Yay! But must start work early. The last minute is not your friend in this class.

I have to give an outline for the essay on what is mathematical modeling. I was just thinking — maybe I should turn this assignment into a two-person dialog rather than a normal, boring essay? I still have time to do that. Interesting thought.

New Year New You

Several things I am working on:
1) Get back in some kind of an exercise grove. Lately, I’ve been having a whole lot of “don’t wanna.” And you know what? I don’t wanna. But I should.
2) Get to writing here and elsewhere regularly. It is good for me. Maybe a few people even read this.
3) Declutter, get rid of things, clean, simplify my life.

None things has to be fantastic, awesome, stupendous. Honestly, life would be better if they just got done. Period. Anything is better than nothing.

So. Anything is better than nothing.

I went for a walk today for about 15 minutes. Yesterday, I got out for a bike ride despite some inclement weather. Not a monster long ride (what I *think* I should be doing), but something.

I am writing right now. Maybe again soon?

I cleaned up one corner of the garage today, and threw some stuff away. We took the recycling in to the recycling center. The kitchen got scrubbed. Two loads of laundry got cleaned. A bicycle got repaired.

Tomorrow I will ride my bike to work. I will post here about my thoughts going in to a new semester. Maybe I’ll even clean or declutter something. But don’t hold your breath on me being three for three. I’ll be excited for two out of three.