As my day-job stumbles from one bizarre episode to the next, it’s been great to have the relative stability of my teaching.
Yesterday was our last class of the semester, so we spent a bunch of time on wrapping things up.
In so doing, it occurred to me that I’ve not been particularly systematic about this, so I tried this time to make sure I went around the houses.
First element was to try and draw out the overarching learning outcomes from the module: the stuff that’s been there most of the time, but which hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of any one session.
When we focus on individual sessions, it’s easy to also focus our attention on the specific outcomes, without making the connections up to the higher-level points.
That fed into the two major part, namely the assessment.
In my case, students have a single piece of work to do for assessment, which requires them to integrate their reflection and learning from the whole module, so talking about those kind of things is doubly-useful.
In both cases, I tried to start from students’ questions and concerns: I’ve been touching on key points throughout the module, but I know from long experience that often that’s not enough. Just because you think you’re clear, doesn’t mean you are.
That’s particularly relevant here, as the assessment is a personal reflection, so I want to emphasise that only each student can determine what is central in that, since they known themselves better than I can.
Finally, I encourage students to give feedback.
No session is perfect – or even close – but the more feedback you can get from students, the better. That can be through the formal channels your institution uses, or more informally in class.
I didn’t use it this time, but the ABC system can also work well for generating ideas.
They don’t know it yet, but as I bump into students in the coming period of time, I’ll be asking for their views on how it all went.
Which just leaves the last task: putting my paperwork in order now, so that I have less to scrabble through next autumn. Much as there’s a temptation to just park your stuff on a shelf somewhere and forget it, it’s hugely more efficient and effective to sort it all out now, while it’s still fresh in your mind.
In short, practise what you preach to your students.