Friday, December 29, 2017

Resources for starting the new semester

Spring semester is ever fast approaching, thus I thought to share a few resources that I myself take advantage of when preparing course materials.

First is a "Generic Syllabus Maker" which allows you to enter the span of your course and select the the days you meet. This app then does the rest when it comes to matching dates with the days you meet for the length of your course. "Fill out the form to receive a list of all the dates when your course will meet during the specified semester." HERE.

See also this article from "Professor Hacker" over at the Chronicle with advice on starting a new semester, HERE. Of most interest to me was the "On Syllabus and Course design" HERE (with the great tip of not fixing what is already working); "Grading" HERE (the section on grading appeals could be pretty helpful); and "First Week" HERE.

While I usually teach an intersession class (i.e. "January term" for some schools, or "winter term") - this year is Animal Ethics online, as was last year - I nevertheless find that the winter "break"  provides a nice span of time to prepare spring classes and refresh on upcoming course content. Even with a year-round contract Moravian recognizes that faculty do best with breaks/spans of time in-between terms to prepare course content, make adjustments, etc. etc.

I remember that Loras College philosophy department did not allow professors any "break" by stating that because we were under contract year-round that that meant we were expected not only to remain on campus during January and over the holidays (supposedly in order to "be available for students"), but also that we were to continue to hold our regular expected 10+ office hours per week. Yes, we were expected to have roughly ten (if not ten to fifteen, if we're being realistic about what they expected) office hours per week. We we expected to be available every single day of the week, including over the students' winter "break."  In my ten-plus years of teaching I never heard of an institution requiring ten to fifteen office hours per week. That's insane.

I remember the Provost sent us all an email saying that January term wasn't a time to "prep" classes (she was the one who put "prep" in quotation marks, interestingly). But in my mind I was left asking: when else would faculty prepare spring courses? The summer before? How on earth could faculty be expected to remember, quite literally, the content of all of the courses they'd be teaching the entire year? I am so glad I went on to do bigger and better things in my career and just leave Loras behind. Moravian is a much, much better fit for me. Loras was not a good "fit" by any stretch of the imagination.