A Semester in Review

Well, Fall Semester has officially drawn to a close. All the assignments are graded, and the grades are ready to be uploaded first thing Monday morning. Now, it’s time to grade myself for the semester.

Advising

The second year was a lot easier than the first. It is a whole lot easier to be able to give an answer with confidence, instead of having to look everything up. I’m still trying to figure out how to best advise different personality types. That’s something I’m going to be working on into the next semester and year.

First Year Academic Seminar

I had customized it a bit from last year, and it went very well. I had three guest speakers, up one from last year. Health Services is a very difficult hour, but it is something they need to hear. Financial Aid answered the most frequent questions I had aside from academics. This was the first time I had Public Safety talk to the students. It turned out to be very timely, as it was that afternoon we experienced a bomb threat and full campus evacuation. I know for certain they will be invited back.

My challenge with the FYAS is balancing the stuff I have to cover (school policies, CORE requirements, etc) with the stuff I believe they need to know (study skills, school history and traditions, professionalism, etc). I had done online modules for history and traditions, academic honesty, and had assignments that dealt with professionalism. I think next year, I am going to expand the history, ethics, and professionalism modules online and revamp some of the assessments. History is fairly straight forward. Ethics and professionalism is something I will have to think through over the break and probably into the summer. But, in the end, just as I expect the Composition I instructors to teach these kids to write, it is my responsibility to ensure they know the consequences of cheating and plagiarism, as well how to communicate with professors.

There will be other redesigns to my assignments as well. I think I am going to change an assignment I had as bonus points to the main final assignment. The responses I saw there were very good, and provided much more feedback than I would have ever expected, much better than the actual final project I have been using. A few other things I had as optional this year will likely be finding their way into requirements next year as well.

Overall, while more people failed than I would have liked, it was a good semester. The averages on each assignment were high, there just were several students who submitted nothing.

Politics and Society

First off, what was I thinking with four papers for a class of 80 students? I love the current event papers, but they simply do not work with a class that size. Instead, I think I will go to two different types of quizzes. Keep the chapter reading quizzes like I have now, and add in current event quizzes every other week or so. The reading quizzes, instead of half being due at midterm, and half on the last day of class, will go back to being due a week after that chapter is covered in lecture. It will mean slightly more work for me, but hopefully the students will stay on top of it more, instead of trying to do 6 weeks worth of quizzes the night they are due.

If I am going to do away with the current event papers, I need to make the main term paper longer. Right now, it is five pages. With the prompts given, it could easily be 12-15, but this is a freshman course. So, I will most likely change it to an 8 page requirement. Now if I could just convince them that cover and reference pages do not count towards that limit…

The exams will have to be more difficult as well. I admit it; I’m used to writing exams for a junior college, not a university. Not only is the class at a different level, It’s also the difference between 8 weeks and 15 weeks, with is a HUGE difference when it comes to the amount of material which can be covered. I have to come up with a way to incorporate more critical thinking into the exams as well.

Overall, the grade distribution for this class was VERY high. Hopefully, with these adjustments, it will even out a bit.

Introduction to American Government

This class has actually been over since before Thanksgiving. It is basically the same class I have been teaching since the fall of 2010, so it is fairly well ironed out. The trick is going to be making the adjustments to Politics and Society without “messing up” this course.

This was the largest class I’ve had at GMC though. Normally, I have between 8-10 students; this class was 25. It made it very difficult to connect the way I normally do with the students. Also, the institution dropped the institution wide attendance policy. While it was nice to be able to excuse absences for students who had an actual reason for missing, it was seen as a license to miss for some of the students, and their grades reflected it. The message that attendance does affect outcome MUST be communicated to students effectively.

Campus Life

Every year, my department partners with Georgia College Campus Life for a presentation to introduce new students to some of the opportunities which exist on campus. This year’s presentation was last Friday.

We had a HUGE turnout. I managed to snap a picture in between signing-in students. Here are the assembled first year students hearing the portion of the presentation from our GIVE Center.

It’s great to see all the new students integrating into campus and Milledgeville society. I can honestly say I learned a lot from my classes while a student. But I learned my life lessons from extracurricular involvement.

Music Monday, and Happy New Year!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses. At least no more than normal. It is not the beginning of the calendar year, or the fiscal year. But, by the time this posts, it will be the start of the new academic year at Georgia College. This year is going exciting. A new class of freshmen have already moved into the residence halls. By the time this week is out, I will have lectured to new classes of Politics and Society, and what is technically five sections of First Year Academic Seminar (three of them are combined).

I look forward to meeting, and learning from my new students. Yes, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. So, from now until May, I will work on an exchange of information. I hope to impart to my students the skills and knowledge they need to be good students, good citizens, and good human beings. From them, I hope to learn about each student and what motivates them. And how I can help them better in their journey.

This is supposed to be a Music Monday post. I honestly had a difficult time selecting a song. “New Day Dawning” seemed appropriate, but I used it a few weeks ago. So, in honor of my undecided majors, I present “Every Major’s Terrible.”

One Year!!!

Today marks one year since I joined the staff at the Center for Student Success. Looking back, I cannot believe the journey I have taken. Between sharing an office with Leeann, moving across campus, joining with advisors from four colleges into one centralized center, and FINALLY (I think) getting my office organized the way I like it, it has been quite the eventful year.

As the five o’clock mark passed last year, I was still terrified, without computer or phone, and wondering how I was going to prep two sections of a class in less than a week. The order of today, with my syllabus and handouts ready, stands out in stark contrast. Instead of those two classes, I will start teaching three when classes begin next week. My advisee load, which seemed unmanageable on that first day last year, has now doubled with another incoming class. And I’m okay with that. I look forward to working with the Class of 2016.

My morning started with a department meeting. As everyone was leaving out of the conference room, I pulled my former office mate, who started the same day I did, aside for a picture. This first year has been great. I wonder what the next has in store.