Most people think that educators sit around and enjoy the last few weeks before the school year begins, but we don’t…
A few weeks before the semester begins and I like most of my colleagues sit in front of my computer working on my courses and getting ready to teach. Reading student evaluations, student blogs from the last two semesters and looking at notes I made throughout the year of what worked and what didn’t, to help me revise my courses. If it sounds like a quick process it isn’t really because I plan my courses for the whole semester, which is 14 weeks times 3 courses and that translates to a lot of prep work. Besides updating my syllabus I plan each week to include an overview, which discusses everything that the students will be required to do for the week. Along with redesigning the overviews I also take a look at the assignments, discussion threads, blogs, video lectures and tests and decide if I need to update them or not.
For some teacchers might prefer to design, create videos, upload files, and teach simultaneously, but I like to have everything planned, created and uploaded to the course before I login on the first day of the semester. Doing this allows me to spend the semester teaching and guiding my students instead of designing and developing different aspects of the course. It also gives me the time I need to provide students with feedback a lot faster that I wouldn’t have if I was simultaneously building and teaching my courses.
To get ready I also like to read textbooks and make sure that I am using the best ones for the students that register for my courses. Which means that I spend a lot of time in one of my favorite stores, the BOOKSTORE!!!! This time around I found a really cool grammar book called the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students by Mignon Fogarty. You are probably wondering what is so special about this book? Grammar is grammar. Well, that is not true. All grammar books are not the same. What I liked about this specific book is the way it was written. The language she uses to explain really “boring” concepts interesting and dare I say it “FUN.” I can really see me using this book in my lower level writing course as it can give international and ESL students a hand in figuring out how to become better writers which is the object of my courses.
The other thing I like to do since I teach online is to update my video lectures so I look at different screen capture software like Adobe Captivate, Camtasia, or Screen-o-matic because they are updated yearly and their developers like to add new features that might work better for me and what I use them for.
I am sure that at this point you are wondering if I spent all of August inside. Granted I do work a lot especially when I have to get ready for the beginning of the semester, but the answer is no. I still got to enjoy the beautiful weather, because one of the benefits of being an educator is having a lot of flexibility, especially as an online instructor I have learned to work from anywhere so I spent a lot of time preparing my courses outside of my office during the summer.