Note: As part of a College Teaching and Learning class in which I am enrolled, I will be reflecting weekly on the course I am teaching. I will likely withhold some details and information from these public blog posts to respect the confidentiality and sanctity of my classroom but I hope to be frank about my own actions and emotions as I teach this course for the second time.
Last week was the final week for this class. We spent the week ramping up for the final paper that is due on Wednesday during Finals Week. That paper, as described in the syllabus, is a brief policy proposal outlining the use of SNSes in evaluating applicants for undergraduate admission.
We spent Monday in small groups creating brief policy proposals for the use of SNSes in evaluating entry-level job applicants. This is, of course, very similar to the final project. The different groups came up with very different answers but they had pretty good reasons for their answers and we had a good discussion afterward about some of the contextual issues (historical, legal, etc.) that could come into play in a real policy proposal. Of course, I also explicitly told them that they were not expected to account for those contextual issues in their final paper as we didn’t have time to discuss those issues in this half-semester course. Overall, it was good practice for their final paper and I think that it got them thinking about the issues and the different angles one could take.
Wednesday was our last day of class and it was even more relaxed than normal as I brought in cookies and milk (I feel a little bit emasculated saying that but damnit I like to bake and I’m good at it). One of my students also brought in some food he made which was very nice of him and very welcome. We began the class by quickly reviewing the breaking news about NACAC’s just-released report “Reaching the Wired Generation: How Social Media Is Changing College Admission” (400k pdf). This was an incredibly timely report as it discusses exactly what we were discussing and writing about in the final paper!
We spent the rest of our time in Wednesday making concept maps recalling and linking together the main ideas of the entire class. At the suggestion of one my colleagues, we began by making a list on the board of the main concepts we had discussed throughout the class. As my students called the ideas out, I wrote them down. I often asked for clarification or explanation to help jog everyone’s memory about the ideas. I also prodded for a few specific ideas but overall I was very pleased with the level of recall exhibited by my students. After we had a good list, we then broke into small groups and created concept maps and then shared them with the rest of the class. The maps themselves were not terribly good but they were (a) created quickly and (b) the first exposure many students had to the idea of concept maps. Although the maps themselves weren’t very good the conversations before and during their creation were fantastic. And that – recalling the ideas, grappling with them, and trying to see how they relate – was the point of the exercise. The maps are just a side effect and an artifact of those conversations.
This week, I also had to deal directly with those students who had slipped behind in the class or simply never showed up. I obviously can’t go into any detail about this but I am sure that every teacher shares my frustration in knowing that there are some students who you can not seem to help. I know these students are adults and they need to learn to deal with the consequences of their actions (they’re all young, traditional students, by the way). But having been there myself – young, naive, and listless – I am sympathetic and there is still some small heartache when I give them the poor grades they have earned.
I will write closing reflections later this week after I have received and graded the final assignments. In the meantime, those who are interested in some of my personal reflections about this class are welcome to read the brief “Learning Essay” (13k pdf) I wrote for my College Teaching and Learning class.