by - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I know I said the other day, I wasn't really going to blog much about teaching, and yet, here I am, blogging about teaching.

After just a few days of being an adjunct professor at Maryland, I have an insane amount of respect and new-found appreciation for teachers every where.

Teaching is hard work!

And I'm not saying that in a woe is me kind of way. It's more like I never had any idea what kind of work teachers put in behind the scenes. I pretty much just assumed they did a little lesson planning, showed up to teach and then did some grading.

But I'm slowly learning there's so, so much more to it than that.

The class I teach at Maryland meets twice a week for two hours at a time. For four classroom hours this week, I put in 20 hours of prep time Sunday and Monday.

Now maybe that's just me because I'm an overly neurotic Type-A planner who likes to have everything under control, but it probably has a lot do to with adapting to the course material and the format of the class.

I literally have no idea how full-time teachers plan enough course material to last eight hours per day, five days per week.

How do you come up with that much stuff?

There are times I worry I'm not going to be able to fill a full two-hour block of time.

But then I find that time in the classroom moves the opposite of how you want it to. On days when you think you have enough planned and you want time to  hurry up, it drags. And on days when you could desperately use an extra five minutes to wrap up a concept, time flies.

Despite all the hard work, I'm loving it though.  I'm lucky to have a really great group of students that seem interested and engaged, and they make it fun.

To my teacher readers, if you have some sage teaching wisdom to share with me, I'd love to hear it.

For everyone else, what's the best thing a teacher has ever taught you?

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  1. I'm not a teacher, but I'm guessing that once you've taught a class, you can pull out the old lesson plans and recycle. So it must get easier from a planning perspective.

  2. It's a lot more planning when you've never taught the course before. Once you've taught something more than once, the planning gets much easier and less time consuming. In general, like anything, the more practice yo get at it, the more proficient you become.

    It is fun for me to read this though, because like you, I think most students don't grasp how much work goes on outside the classroom. For most teachers or professors, being in the classroom is the EASY part; it's the planning and grading (plus other professional and academic committments) that make this job WORK.

  3. Karen B2:42 PM

    It does get easier, I promise. For a two-hour class, I would think of it in terms of segments, probably four 30-minute segments, to keep things interesting. Try for a mixture of lecture, discussion, and structured activities. You want to have some activities that you can stretch if things are going faster than you anticipated and some that you can punt on if you're running out of time. You also want to make sure that you're allowing plenty of opportunities for students to process their learning by sharing thoughts with a partner, jotting down main ideas, tweeting, adding a question to the box, etc. This will help keep your students more engaged and increase learning. Check for understanding regularly, not just by asking, "Does this make sense," but by doing something that requires students to demonstrate understanding, such as sharing an example, making a connection, answering a question, drawing a conclusion, etc. Have fun--teaching really is a blast!

  4. The best thing a teacher has ever taught me? I always think of my high school freshman year English teacher. Prior to his class, I kind of just skated by and figured "this is good enough"...because it always was. But in his class, "just good enough" wasn't good enough. All year I hated him for it, but looking back I always think of what an important lesson he taught me...Always give your best, 100% of the time.

  5. My mom is a teacher, as are some of my friends from high school. The first year of teaching is the hardest because you have to come up with EVERYTHING, but as you continue on, you can make changes to the base you already have, so the work isn't nearly as terrible. Also, some subjects don't change year to year...like algebra. So you might change up a few things every year, but you have a lot of the work done to start.