Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 84: Listening vs. Doing

I may have located the reason why I have been having difficulty writing lately.

I am extremely dissatisfied with my teaching.  I feel as though my lessons and activities have become stale and formulaic.  My students are disinterested in my classes, as am I.

It would be easy for me to justify this as a function of teaching new classes in a new department and a new subject in a new building to a new age of students.

My complete lack of comfort with the rest of my situation has driven me towards any port in this storm.  The port I have found is lecture.

I'm a fairly decent lecturer.  As I've written about previously, I have the ability to weave my lectures into stories that can capture interest.
"And that, boys and girls, is how the inevitable death of the sun will cause the corona to expand outwards and incerate the very ground upon which we sit!  Now who wants a cookie to go with their feeling of utter insignificance in the face of an expanding and infinite universe?"

When I DO tell these stories, the students are engaged.

But I don't think they're learning.

I know how to spiral information in Physics and math.  That content builds on itself and it's much easier to use prior information to solidify the concepts.  I'm having tremendous difficulty doing that in Astronomy.

As of now, I'm not sure how, with my current roster and resources, how to have them DO astronomy instead of remembering facts.

Just when I started getting comfortable with my ability to have my students DOING math rather than listening to it, I'm throw into a subject that seems to be mostly information.

I'm branching out of this a little bit with the weekly questions on the website that require the students to consider hypothetical situations and justify their opinions.

But I want more.  I want them DOING things beyond taking notes that they will never look at again. The menu of assignments that I've given offers this opportunity, but much of that is either being out of class or not at all.

Perhaps the way around this would be to give more in class time for those tasks.

It's snowing and I have to go to the gym.  I have a ton of things to think about and reorganize.

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