Episode 11: When Teaching Takes Over
Sometimes it feels like writing and teaching are at odds in our academic lives, but they’re not! There are ways to level out your teaching tasks, create more room for all your responsibilities, and give yourself a more comfortable semester experience.
When you are in the throes of the busiest times of your semester, you may feel overwhelmed, like you can’t possibly keep balancing all the different plates you have in the air. You might be behind on grading, swamped with prep, and doing more hand-holding for students who are also feeling the crunch.
On episode 10, I talked about how to approach these times in the semester and still keep your writing in your plans. On this episode, I’m talking about teaching; survival tips to manage your teaching right now, and ideas for creating more space in the future.
Creating Breathing Room in Your Teaching Right Now
Here are some ways to manage teaching to give you a little space to breath. Remember that tweaking things to make them doable at this stage in the semester is ok and understandable.
- Re-evaluate how you are doing assignments and assessments. Drop assignments if possible, change your grading strategy (pass/fail, less feedback, make something in-class instead of take home), look for any way to take some of that grading weight off your plate.
- Corral your prep. At times like these, it is ok to not be the ‘ultimate expert’, and to just stay two steps ahead of your students. In order to keep your prep time from ballooning out and taking too much time, schedule it up against a firm boundary, like class time.
- Build more participation into your class time. This is a win-win, because it alleviates the burden of preparing a full out lecture, while letting the students have a chance to really engage with the material and each other.
“A lot of times we feel like we need to be the end-all and be-all experts, and we don’t.”
Creating Time Savings in Teaching in Advance
When you get ready to start planning your teaching for next semester, or for the next time you’ll be teaching a particular class, remember what this busy time of the semester was like. Reflect in advance on where your focus will be in a given period, and do future-you a favor by implementing some of these ideas:
- Corral your prep. This one is important whether you’re in survival or planning mode. Don’t let prep time take more time than it should.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: re-use systems, templates and themes. Plan to re-use templates for assessments and assignments and use long form or response heavy formats only when really necessary. Set up structures that you can re-use between classes and/or from semester to semester.
- Get creative about keeping up on readings, for you and your students. Assign readings that you are interested in and want to read for your own work! This is a win-win: you get an added motivator and time-saver, and the students get to stay up on cutting edge information. Also consider having students present on the assigned readings and lead class discussion.
- Create opportunities for “in-the-moment” assessments. Use apps or digital assessment tools, check off work or participation on the fly, anything that cuts down on the pile of paper you need to bring home.
“You can’t do everything at level ten out of ten all the time.”
My Amplify program is now open for enrollment! If you’re looking for help and support to organize your academic life while keeping up a productive pipeline of writing and publishing, and providing high quality educational instruction to your students, this could be the place for you. For more information and to apply for Amplify: Faculty Writing Accelerator, click here.