One of the frustrations of teaching is the limitations of a lecture class. I still much prefer one-on-one interaction. It has been pleasant so far, however, teaching the night 3604 persuasive writing class. I feel like all my strengths get to come to bear with more experienced students, whereas in 1010 I often feel like I’m holding back to some extent in the interests of keeping most of what I say from sailing over everyone’s heads. That may be the key FYC skill – simplification of complex material, much like my pet peeve, the importance of summarization.
What I like about meeting students one-on-one is that this lower-division/upper-division split tends to vanish. When I address a 1010 class as a whole they tend to clam up, especially early in the semester; when I put them in groups and walk around, speaking to only 3 or 4 at a time, they start talking; but when it’s just one student sitting in my office or standing in the hallway, they positively pipe up with whatever’s on their mind. Now, a upper-division class tends to function like a 1010 class does at the small group level, which is good – getting a good discussion going is remarkably easy – but whatever level of student, they all talk more or less freely when it’s just me and them, even if Raven, my officemate, is a mere 5-6 feet away.
I’ve introduced some new peer response stuff in both classes this fall, especially in 1010, and a robust conference schedule in 3604, to nudge them along with their papers (we only meet once a week in that class). With these thoughts in mind. It’s too early to say what the effects will be. But I feel a lot more confident this semester than in any previous other about what I’m doing, I’ll say that much.
With that said, I need a cheeseburger.