I love to teach and was reminded of that after last night’s class session, the second week of the Fall semester. If done well, it is exhausting and exasperating and a ton of work, yes, but also very rewarding. The class I am teaching has the largest enrollment of any class I’ve ever taught spanning nearly 20 years.
Over the years, I’ve had students join my classes from all over the world, from places as far away as Japan and Australia. This particular group of students represents a lot of geographic diversity as well, including a student from South Korea and others from all over the U.S.
We are just starting to get acquainted with one another. Last night, I deliberately chose to break students into three separate groups to work on an in-class activity. Part of my thinking in doing this is to get them familiar, early on, with how to function with Zoom. At the end of the course, each of them is required to give a live presentation to the class, so this early work will hopefully help them to prepare for what is to come.
I also wanted them to wrestle with a particular problem, which has to do with definitions. Each time we do this in class, I’ve found that the experience really opens students’ eyes to the complexities of definitions in ways that they otherwise might not appreciate. Each group presents their definitions, along with commentary, to the rest of the class. Each time, I find that groups choose different approaches. This gets the point across to everyone in a very effective way.
An added benefit to this in-class activity is that it enables students to begin to get to know one another. That is especially important for a class this large. I was really pleased when one of the students pointed this out when the whole group was discussing what was learned from the in-class activity.
It excites me when I am able to work with motivated and interested people to learn new things. In some ways, I wish this was something I could do full time.