Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Kalends of August: Time for Reinventing the Wheel

August has arrived, and, since this is so, I must turn my attention to things academic and scholastic. The first teacher work day is Wednesday, August 18th, and the students report on Tuesday, the 24th. Being an orderly and (at times) obsessive-compulsive person, these odd days for starting seem a bit inauspicious.

I want to take a good look at my syllabi (this plural also bothers me a bit... but "syllabuses" just doesn't work for me either) and make sure that what's on the page reflects what and how I want to teach. Many times in the past I have just updated the ones from the year before. It is very easy to just fall into a pattern and not make adjustments because it makes for more work. This bad habit brings to mind the image of an aged professor, being a fixture on campus, showing up for class with his yellowed and scribbled notes he cribbed together twenty-five years earlier. This class may have been interesting and effective a quarter-century before, but now it is old, tired, and a complete bear for the students to sit through. Teachers should/must make adjustments to their material, content, and delivery up to the moment of delivery and (often) moments afterwards.

The changes I will make will be based upon reflection and review of what worked and what didn't from the year before. I plan to take a look at final grades, the material we covered (and did not cover), and, at least for Latin III and above, the potential roster. I won't receive the actual lists until a day or two before the start of class, but I have an idea of who will be in those classes and what things they know and how they know them. Unfortunately, Latin I and, for the most part, Latin II are always unknown entities because most of the students are new. Moreover, I have found that I really can't get a feel for what type of language students I have for Latin I until later in October. Unfortunately, beginning students usually don't begin to show signs of floundering until that later date. I want to be able to catch signs of them struggling before then, though. This I must ponder.

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