End of the Semester Review

Welcome to “dead week,” the oh-so-cheerily-named days before Final Exams. I’ve never been a fan of the term, to be honest; it seems to relegate this crucial part of the semester to meaningless status. Like “dead air,” or “dead space,” painting this week as “dead week” minimizes the importance that the last week of classes actually has for the semester. For some of our students, what happens this week and next means the difference between an A or a B, while for others it means the difference between passing and failing. With those kind of stakes, it seems like “dead week” ought to be more than holding space between the “real semester” and final exam week.  Continue reading “End of the Semester Review”

Critically Reflective Practice at the End of the Semester

Re-entry after an extended break is always difficult, but re-entry after Thanksgiving has always been the hardest for me. Since we only have a week or two in the semester after the Thanksgiving recess, the end-of-term flurry of activity seems to hit me in the face that first Monday back (which is why the post you’re reading now is coming on a Tuesday). It’s more than just getting back on the horse; it’s like trying to jump on the horse while it’s galloping  at full speed and wearing a saddle coated in Crisco. Continue reading “Critically Reflective Practice at the End of the Semester”

Difficult Discussions in the Classroom and on Campus

This weekend, Grand View joined the ranks of schools, colleges, and universities that have had “It’s OK to be white” signs posted in their environs. A campaign started by racist trolls on 4chan (an online discussion space where “alt-right,” white nationalist, and other similarly charming groups congregate virtually), the sign postings seem to be intended to roil campus communities and “trigger” those who advocate for diversity and multiculturalism. So once again, as has been the case across the country constantly in the last year, racism and racist actions are attempting to seize control of campus and community conversations. Continue reading “Difficult Discussions in the Classroom and on Campus”

Smart Board Tips and Tricks

One of the perks that comes with teaching at Grand View is that almost every classroom on our campus is equipped with an interactive Smart Board. It’s a really versatile tool, but in the hustle and bustle of the semester, it’s easy to forget it can do a bunch of stuff. So we default to using it like we would a regular old whiteboard (though don’t use the dry-erase markers on it–PLEASE!).  If you’ve ever wondered, though, if there are additionally capabilities with the Smart Board that could help you and your students, here are a few tips and tricks you might be interested in: Continue reading “Smart Board Tips and Tricks”

Microaggressions and Implicit Bias in the Classroom

Imagine the following scenario: you have a class that meets three times a week. As a dedicated instructor, you arrive at the classroom early to set things up and make conversation with your students before the class officially starts. One day early in the semester, a male student walks in the door right before class is supposed to begin. As he walks by the female student sitting near the entrance, he reaches down and flicks her on the ear. She shoots him an annoyed look, but he continues on to the back row and sits down. The next class session, you observe the same thing-right before class is supposed to begin, the male student strolls in and flicks the ear of the same female student before making his way to the back row. This time, she looks over her shoulder and shoots him a look that clearly implies, “stop doing that.” But the routine continues, day after day. Male student walks in, flicks female student’s ear, sneers, and goes to sit down. Continue reading “Microaggressions and Implicit Bias in the Classroom”

Meeting Our Students Where They Are

Every year, Beloit College puts out its annual “mindset list,” which is an annual reminder of both the vicissitudes of popular culture and how much older I should feel at the beginning of the academic year. This year’s class of entering students, according to the Beloit list, “are mostly 18 and were born in 1999.” That means, among other things, that we have a passel of new students for whom “Peanuts comic strips have always been repeats” and “the seat of Germany’s government has always been back in Berlin.” There are sixty items on this year’s list, all of them aimed at getting faculty like us to shake our heads ruefully at what it feels like when we keep getting older while our students stay the same age. Continue reading “Meeting Our Students Where They Are”