New challenges

Red is dead by Éole, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Ã‰ole 

Big challenges are in the works for me in the fall. After two years of working to build an effective library instruction program (an ongoing process, of course) I’m stepping up and slightly sideways to the next level in teaching activities – a full semester course. I will be teaching a section of First Year Seminar, which is required of all incoming students. FYS is an interdisciplinary, discussion-based course designed to explore questions of meaning, value, and responsibility. It is meant to help incoming students make connections to the campus, the Adirondacks, and each other. I’m thrilled to be teaching alongside a number of more experienced faculty, all of whom have different approaches toward the same goals. Each section has a different theme. I have titled mine “Cultivating Resilience.”

Course description: How do we handle change? How can we overcome setbacks? How do we recognize and cultivate resilience in our lives and the lives of others? In this section of FYS, we will be analyzing and understanding strategies for resilience by examining different environmental and societal responses to challenge and change. Assignments will take place in and outside of the classroom as we question the nature of resilience in the Adirondacks, in ourselves, and in others. Through critical thinking, classroom discussion, reflection, reading, writing, and videos, students will develop strategies for cultivating resilience in their own lives to help them succeed in the college classroom and beyond.

I hope that this theme will allow the class to be flexible enough to meet the inevitable challenges inherent in FYS as well as to follow the interests of the students and directions we might want to explore along the way. I’m nervous about the planning necessary for a full semester course. I plan workshops and large scale curriculum, but I haven’t yet had to fill 2-3 days a week with unique material for 14 weeks. Any tips and tricks out there that you more experienced teachers can share?

And in other news, I’m going to ALA! Anyone interested in meeting up? I’m excited to be exposed to new ideas and catch up with friends I haven’t seen in way too long. Most importantly for me, I’m excited to meet new people and get the chance to talk through ideas and approaches to instruction and assessment. My colleagues are fantastic, but I’m a one woman department, and I crave interaction with others that do the same kind of work. Interested in effective teaching, assessment of instruction and reference, and/or outreach activities? Hit me up at meggan[dot]frost[at]gmail[dot]com or @doubleG2718.

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4 thoughts on “New challenges

  1. Ilana Barnes says:

    I teach a half semester course, so don’t know if it’s applicable, but I think a good move is to make a giant calendar. I think it helps you visualize the ebb and flow of the semester, knowing what classes will occur during thanksgiving will affect content, etc.
    Plus, giant calendar!

  2. kmfont says:

    Building on Ilana’s idea … I don’t use a giant calendar, but I put the course concepts on sticky notes and rearrange them on the big table in my office until I have a flow that feels right. Then I transfer that plan to the syllabus. I also keep a version of the syllabus in which I turn on “track changes” and make notes about what to change for future terms.

    • Meggan says:

      Oh, sticky notes. I’m pretty sure my life would fall apart if it weren’t for sticky notes. I love the idea of keeping a separate syllabus to track changes and keep notes for the next time. I’m sure there will be lots of lessons learned to apply in the future.

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