Reflecting on our kick-off classes

Starting a new semester is not be routine, it must be a reflective practice and an improvement upon previous semester kick-offs. What new go-to activities do you have for these new students? What modern technologies are they using to communicate and how does that new technology integrate into the way you want to communicate with them? What are you excited about besides meeting and teaching a new group of students? Are you excited?

I learned something yesterday in my first class. I was not my typical 20 minutes early for a 100-level class, and this was my inaugural class. I walked in and started interacting with all the students already seated quietly in their chosen seats. I felt awkward because the tables were all facing forward and I thought, should I change them now and disrupt all the comfortably seated students, or just go with this classroom layout for now? I went with that layout, mostly because it was an evening class and I was late for my early start.

The class was a flop. I felt alien in the class, like a fish out of water. Why? It was a lecture style layout and as a student, instructor, and learning designer I detest lectures. The layout forced me to lecture even though my activities were meant for group work. I was surprised at the end of the class how the layout dictated my teaching style. I consciously thought throughout the class, “Hell, I’m lecturing again, what’s happening to me??”

In an island, or pod layout, I could easily start a group activity in 10 minutes and run with it until the break. After the break I would give an overview for 10 minutes and then run with that activity until the wrap up and review at the end of the class. The table layout dictated my teaching style, it was natural. The students expected group work, so they went to it when I had the island layout.

I started this semester on the wrong foot, but still feel very confident going forward because I’ve got a handful of exciting new activities that I will offer my students. These activities include apps, active learning strategies, guest speakers, and outings. I know they will get excited because I am so stoked to get going this semester even though the first class went down in flames.

So, again I ask, what excites you about teaching this semester, besides meeting new students?

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