Wednesday, April 19, 2006

teacher stuff

I've been writing exams today and pondering my syllabus for this summer. I try to be professional in my course outlines and goals, but something about exams brings out the goofy in me. A little humor seems to actually help students relax during an exam, but it's best limited to the extra credit questions, rather than the essays. The round of questions I wrote before lunch (I need to write several versions of the same exam)contained far too many in-jokes and references that no one but me will understand.

I take that back "none of my students." The joke about being "nailed to a perch" will have to go, as will all of the As Time Goes By references, though I might keep a few of the names. The lemming joke should probably be dispensed with as well, alas.

I hate making multiple choice exams almost as much as I hate grading them. The one perk is that they do allow you to express the sillier random pop culture aspects of your personality. Alas, I am not all that funny, nor am I being paid to do so.

Over teh years I've written quite a few letters of rec for former students, and so far I have a 100% acceptance rate. I've just heard from one of them. He seems a nice guy and was a fair student, but not great. I tried to highlight what he'd learned about writing from me and stressed the improvement in his grades, but feared it might not be enough. Whew! He got in.


Hugh said...

It's great to read your writing about something you love again, rather than something you fear. Your profile does say "teacher and student", after all.

John B. said...

Yes lemming, good to hear you excited and passionate for a change about teaching, and not buried under books and dissertations and the stress of grad work.

Summer classes at IU were always extra long, but I enjoyed my history classes in the summer...the teachers seemed a bit more laid back at times, too.

Use humor in class and your tests, scatter it around, it breaks the monotony. It sounds stupid, but the cornier the better...your students are smart enought to pick up on a lot of the humor, especially if it is mor generally culture oriented in nature.

Joe said...

Don't suppose you can get at a Scantron machine somewhere on campus? Doesn't help you write the exams, but at least the grading is easier...

Wasn't it supposed to be another 10 or 15 years before college students started looking mystified at our references to ancient "pop" culture?

Alison said...

Joe, I passed that mark a few years ago when I made a "Mac Tonight" joke in a class (about the particularly excellent cheesy opening we did for Brecht on Brecht). Nobody, including the professor (who was about 5 years younger than me, and Canadian) got it at all. They all just looked at me like I was from Mars.