First week: excitement in the air

This is my first week going back to teach fully in-person after joining my current department in Sep 2020. I had A LOT of worries before stepping into my classroom on Sep 7th: how will I walk from one class to the next one (in a different building) with only 15 minutes in-between? will students remember how to sit in a room and attend lectures? Will I be able to write on whiteboard/under document camera/on my computer screen fast enough? Do I have all the adapters to connect things? Will I be able to find the mic? Most importantly will we be able to connect?

Five minutes into the lecture all these worries melted away: a technician kindly showed up right before my lecture to make sure things work, students were excited to be back in the classroom and eager to engage with their peers and me. We did a short game for MATH3120 in the beginning: I gave out popsicle sticks when students stepped in the classroom and asked them to find their group members based on the number written on the stick. They spent the next ten minutes chatting with each other and getting to know each other. I told them it’s okay if we can’t cover all the topics for the first week. I believe building a learning community is more important. I have a lot of group activities planned for the next twelve weeks for this class and I can already see them working and supporting each other.

For my other large Intro to calculus course, the classroom setting is not ideal: there’s no proper desk for students to use, just a small piece of wood they can pull out from one side of the chair that’s only big enough for an A4 notepad. The chairs could be more comfortable: only hardwood and they have to sit for 75 minutes for my lectures. I may give them some opportunity to stand up and walk around in the future. The room is very stuffy and poorly ventilated. My CO2 monitor recorded 1300+ which was far from being safe. I will try to keep all windows open and hope that helps. In spite of all of these, my students were absolutely WONDERFUL! I started the class by addressing their concerns that I collected in a pre-course survey and answering a few common questions they posted there. We didn’t exactly finish where I’d like to be but I’m happy with the pace and how engaging students were. Clicker questions certainly ignited a lot of interesting discussions though next time I need to make sure the class is searchable when it’s set up. Only about half of the class managed to access iClicker for the first class but I’ll make sure everyone can use it from next week on.

Overall I enjoyed being back to campus: there is nothing more rewarding than seeing how excited students are in the classroom and walking among them when I teach. Here’s to a wonderful semester ahead!

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