Slow draw down…

We’re literally about 1.5 weeks from the finals period at the end of the term. I’m slowly removing the books that I’ve brought to the office at school (since I don’t have a spring term class). Luckily I didn’t fill up the office with books. I learned from back in the day when I was a GA, I suppose. That was a hassle to deal with all of those books to bring home.

I’ve forgotten, due to the 10 or 12 week courses I teach online, how long these 16 week on-campus courses seem. I understand completely why students just start phoning it in after Thanksgiving…hell, I’m feeling like doing that myself. My motivation is busted.

On the other hand, I am kind of looking forward to the first time since 2001 where I do not have any classes as either student or as instructor. The last time I was this uninvolved with school was when I took a semester off to start a video game shop. That was good times. I guess I’m doing something similar now, as I don’t necessarily want to get involved with adjunct work online again. That was enough of a headache that I don’t want to relive it.

The expansion of FroydTech, LLC is the aim now. We’ll see if we can pay some bills.

Echo Chambers

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it bears repeating: whenever tragedy strikes, terrorism, or disaster, I find it necessary to quite social media for a couple weeks.

I do so because there will be no thoughtful discussion, just posts of memes pushing whatever ideological slant that people bring to the topic. While normally that’s not a problem for me, it becomes an issue when it is non-stop. That’s what it is after the planned parenthood shooting today. A monster shot a lot of people, and now it’s up to the echo chambers to re-entrench deeper.

It doesn’t matter your opinion on what caused it, what the problem was, what the solutions are: social media is an echo chamber for your opinions. It becomes a shouting match, should people disagree, with everyone piling on everybody else. It causes a lot of hurt feelings, it doesn’t move the discussion forward in any productive manner, and there are many MANY logical fallacies…y’know, whenever someone wants to think for themselves rather than posting/reposting clever sayings and images.

Consequently, in order to give myself peace of mind, I withdraw from the social networks. Knee-jerk reactions and entrenched/unchangeable/untenable argumentation is not something that’s for me. It causes me far more stress than is due. Because of that stress, in order to be productive (so I can do things like pay bills and taxes), I have to remove myself from that stressful situation.

It’s not good for anyone.

student surveys

Student surveys came back for that class mentioned in the last post. The standard plotting of the responses are interesting, even between answers. I’ve never had the even split like this before (roughly half positive, roughly half negative), though I’ve never team taught a course before.

But, like it is with any student feedback, I’ll ignore the positive and focus on the negative. It’s not really a healthy way to take criticism, I know, but it’s what I do.

power in the classroom

Something that I don’t think about that much any more is physical size in the classroom. I mean, why should I? I teach online! That inherently deconstructs one of the main ways a teacher has implied authority over a course. It’s not just size, but expected presence: you are at the front of the classroom. You are standing. Students are sitting.

Physically, the teacher is above the student.

I’m teaching an on campus honors course this term, and this has been bothering me a bit. I want to encourage discussion and debate, let them know that their opinions are valid even if I may disagree with them (we talked about stand up comedy today), and let the discussion flow organically that way. It’s not been happening nearly as much as I’d like, though they loosened up some with more recent and more known material.

I tend to wonder how much it has to do with my team teacher and me doing what teachers do: stand, and be toward the front of the class. It’s not just that I’m a bigger guy (I am), but the appearance is probably more prohibitive to viewing the discussion ground as “equal” than just my own size.

It leaves me to wonder, as this is likely going to be one of the last in-person classes I teach, how things may have been different had I either been sitting, or had the students been standing. Something to try next time, if there is one, I suppose.