Friday, October 05, 2012

Some good teaching stuff

I know I gripe a lot on here about entitlement-mentality students, so I have to report a couple of incidents that show the opposite:

1. I had a guy in my basic, non-majors class thank me the other day for handing back exams so quickly. (One of my goals, even though it damn near kills me sometimes, is to give them back the next class meeting, or at least within a week). He said, "This is a refreshing change from some classes where the professors sit on the stuff for a month before handing it back."

Frankly, I just want it done with and out of my life, but the fact that the students get quick feedback on how they're doing is a bonus as well.

2. I realized this morning in my stats class that some people were TOTALLY lost, so I backed up a couple days and did a complete review, starting over from scratch. One of the guys (he is an international student and is a good student) thanked me after class because he said he understood it much more clearly now.

3. One of the women in that class asked me if we could "discuss" her last exam, which always puts me on alert, because some students use "discuss" to mean "I'm going to gripe at you and demand more credit."

Well, in her case, it was more, "Please show me what I did wrong on these things I missed." And in the process of doing that, I realized that while she had done one problem "incorrectly," she had set it up in a way that was fundamentally correct - and therefore, not deserving of losing the full ten points, so I gave her back five points on the spot. And she was happy to see her mistakes were mostly minor ones (one was that she transposed a few numbers) but her fundamental understanding of stuff was solid.

I've also learned that I can joke around a bit with students. One of the big shocks to me about moving to the South - though people warned me - is that "people will tease you when they like you." I've finally gotten used to that. I'm not always good at giving it back to them (which is the best response), and in a few cases I've gotten between two students whose teasing of each other seemed to border on hostility (but really wasn't, and I overinterpreted it). But anyway. Bow hunting season starts today, I guess, and Wednesday one of my students asked me at the end of lab, "So, is class cancelled Friday for bowhunting?" And I laughed and said, "Nice try, no." and he laughed and said, "It was worth a shot."

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