Gone Fishing…

This is my last post for this school year. Even though we are not going on vacation this year I decided to devote August to rest, relax and rejuvenate. As I have a feeling that this upcoming school year is not going to be a walk in the part. Usually, in August I spend all of my time with my family and feeding my brain by reading only things that make me grow. For me and my family, August is a big month as we have lots of celebrations. It is the month I got married to my wonderful husband and it is also the month our son was born as a result I always take this month off.

So, because of that, I make sure to finish everything I need to do for September. I start sending emails about all sorts of things so I can make sure that my prep for the fall is complete no later than July 31. From editing my syllabi, making sure that my courses are updated to reflect the changes I want to make, creating new e-lectures to completing my AFR’s (Annual Faculty Reports).  Besides needing a break so I can spend the majority of my time with my family the other reason I do it is because I actually need some time for my brain to relax and decompress.  It helps me go back to teaching ready for the new school year. I have learned from past experience that if I don’t take the time off, I am miserable all year. By May I feel extremely burnt out and I can’t be the best educator, wife, mother, and friend to anybody. I just don’t perform to full capacity and it shows in my work. I don’t do a good job teaching, writing, or anything else I do professionally. This then seeps into my personal life because I become stressed out, annoyed, and irritated causing my personal life to not be good either. As a result, I then tend to not have a lot of patience and tolerance. What is more, the people around me can tell. Thus, for my sanity and others who have to live, work, and have to listen to me teach for three hours a week  I spend as much time as possible throughout the year decompressing and August is one of those times.

The other thing I like to do during my time off is plan early and brainstorm on blog posts or e-lectures for example among other things because if don’t do that ahead of time I am constantly playing catch up and it is not my best writing if I don’t. Like I make sure that my courses are completed and uploaded long before the semester begins as there is not possible to teach and design/create a course while it’s running. It’s too stressful and mistakes are bound to happen, which is not how I want my students or anybody else to think of me. Also, I teach around 80 students a semester and there are some weeks I have so many papers to grade that it is impossible for me to write anything when my brain is completely fried. So I came to the conclusion that I work better when I take August and January off and take care of myself.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to take some time off even if he/she stays home this year. Enjoy the last month of the summer with your loved ones as this year is bound to be a tough one since COVID-19 is still raging. With any luck by the end of 2020, the hard-working scientists and doctors around the world might have some sort of solution for this pandemic so can stop feeling so stressed out and that we are out of control!

This is where I wish I was for August but maybe next year:

IMG_5720.jpg

See you all in September!

 

Katherine

Cc-by-nc-sa_icon.svg

Copyright © 2020 TheAdventuresofanOnlineInstructor.com

 

 

Thinking, Reflecting…

This week has been super busy as I was trying to finish grading final exams, final papers on my summer courses, as well as posting grades. So, besides the actual reading and grading, I spent a couple of days just thinking and looking at students’ grades. When I am doing it, it makes sense, but I when tell someone that I actually take a couple of days to spend time just thinking about the students and their grades they look at me surprised. I guess in other professions this type of process does not occur.

It is also an activity that most in the education field don’t talk about. I am not sure why, but we don’t. During this time, for starters, I want to make sure that all of the grades are entered, and I have not missed anything. The other reason is that I look at how much a student has progressed in a few months or weeks and if that is reflected in his or her final grade. As I am looking at their grades I am wondering if what I set out to do during the semester or summer session, occurred. What I mean is, I always have a set of goals as I begin designing and then teaching a course. It becomes evident if those objectives were met when I look at my students’ grades.

This is the time that I take a lot of notes for myself so I can remind myself if what I used for the semester worked or not. By “worked” I mean, did online tools like VoiceThread, or a homework assignment fulfill its objective?  How did the students react? Did they do well? Did they have the knowledge I was hoping for? If not, why not? What can I change to make this so I can make their learning experience better? Or they can absorb the material better?

So, thinking about grades and performance objectives at the end of a course is extremely important in order to begin the process of redesigning an upcoming course. I see it as a way to measure if what I am doing in the classroom virtual or face-to-face is important. Of course, there are those students that register for my course that they are not ready for it or those that are taking, but have no interest in learning because they believe that the course is a waste of their time and they need to take it to graduate. I don’t usually take most of those into account because how can look at a student that doesn’t have the prerequisite knowledge in order to do well in my course. It is those students that I have a hard time failing because the majority of them work extremely hard to pass and even though they have progressed a lot it still isn’t enough. On the other hand, the students that think have nothing to learn are the ones I that I cannot be concerned about because there is always something to learn, and instead of approaching that way, they close themselves up to all sorts of opportunities.

These and many more thoughts go through my mind during this period of reflection. Of course, there is a lot more to it than just thinking and re-evaluating for a couple of days, but this is how I begin the process of working and thinking for the upcoming courses I will be teaching in the fall or spring semesters.

Do you think about how your students did while taking your course? How do you go about designing and then teaching a course?

 

Katherine

 

Cc-by-nc-sa_icon.svg.png

Copyright © 2020 TheAdventuresofanOnlineInstructor.com

Home Office? Is it here to stay?

A while back I decided that Monday would be a good day to post my thoughts for the week because I had Friday and the weekend, but now that we are all still home, the weather is much warmer, and there are so many weekend activities from taking a bike ride, playing soccer with the boy or finishing up all of those little house improvement projects that usually gets pushed back because we are not home for a large part of the summer. In addition to our home projects, I am also teaching two summer courses which keep me busy during the week, as a result, I have no time or the energy to write on the weekends anymore.

I am not complaining I am actually excited to get some of these off my to-do list, it just does not leave a lot of room for writing, relaxing and doing fun activities. So, while doing these projects I thought it would be a great idea to clean and reorganize my study. In a way, I am planning ahead for the fall especially since I am still going to be teaching remotely for the upcoming semester and probably for spring 2021. This is a task I always use to do at the end of the spring semester before going completely digital. Usually, by the end of the year, I had so much paper from teaching that I to recycle it before it took over my home office.

I also wanted to make room for my son in my study as I am not sure how his school year is going to go. The state of Massachusetts has released all these guidelines, but our district needs to see how they can put them into effect. So, we have not heard what school will look like in September. Will the children go to school full-time, part-time/hybrid, or stay online? Therefore, organizing a workspace for both of us that actually works for two people is more important than ever. As I am cleaning, I am taking into account my child’s needs as well as decorating his side to fit his age and not mine without turning the room into a child’s study area. There is quite a bit to do besides buying an extra office chair. I am also adding storage solutions for the boy’s books, paper, folders as well as putting a map on the wall since he loves geography

IMG_5945

and creating a gallery wall to display his art.IMG_5946.jpg

In the back of my mind, I always hoped to share my workspace with my son as he grew older and this pandemic made me want to do it sooner rather than later. In the long run, I think that it will be good for both of us to have a space that is efficient and functional. Somewhere we can go work and then close the door when we are done just in case, we forgot to clean the space. 🤣

Are you making room in your home for a permanent home office? What kinds of changes are you making this summer as you prepare for the upcoming school year?

Katherine

 

Cc-by-nc-sa_icon.svg.png

Copyright © 2020 TheAdventuresofanOnlineInstructor.com